By Royal Ibeh
Though seven in 10 households believe they are having enough protein intake, their daily intake of proteins suggest otherwise and remains very low, accounting for less than a third of daily food consumption, says a study, while attributing cost and household income levels as the major deterrents to adequate protein intake in Nigeria.
The study titled: “Understanding Nigeria’s Protein Deficiency Status and Evaluating Campaign Activities”, revealed that Nigeria has a gap in its protein consumption when compared with other global economies, as it is ranked below the bar in global food security index and lower than the global standard in terms of protein per capita and daily intake.
The study explains that the average minimum cost of Protein is N80 per meal and three meals will amount to N240 per day. “If the average Nigerian lives on a dollar, it means he spends about 65 per cent of food on Proteins alone, which are considered expensive,” it added.
According to the lead author of the study, Mr Obaro Agbalabri, protein is considered very expensive and as such, many Nigerians tend to prioritize what will give them more energy and less expensive.
Agbalabri, at the Protein Challenge Webinar (Series 8), said, “We expect to see less uptake of protein due to the high rates of unemployment and inflation. For instance, statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), shows that, the number of people who are within the working age group of the population is about 120million, but only about 65 million are in the labour force. Still, less than the 65 million within the labour force are fully employed.
“We have about 18 million people who are unemployed. The NBS shows that we have about 33.3 per cent of people who do not work. The impact of this is that the disposable income of these individuals will be lower compared to before.’’
These people would prioritize on what will keep them alive first of all and in most of the time, people will pick the things that would give them energy and a roof over their heads, as essentials.”
Worsen the situation is the inflation rate, which recently increase to 17.3 per cent, the highest Nigeria has ever seen in the last four years, said Agbalabri, adding that inflation for food has increased from January 2020 to January 2021 by 20 percent.
“The price of food has gone up, the disposable income has reduced because of the high level of unemployment, with what we are seeing, the issue of protein deficiency would even become worse because people will no longer be able to afford sufficient protein to keep their daily balance of protein,” he said.
He however advised stakeholders to work with government to drive more awareness and ensure affordability for protein daily intake among households. There is need to channel communication to the essence of protein consumption and to push out clear information regarding required intake of protein for optimum wellbeing especially in North and East where there are lower intakes, he added.
“We should also consider driving deliberate efforts that are targeted towards affordable protein sources for household, especially the lower income group, to boost daily intake. If they cannot afford expensive protein because of the situation, we can recommend cheaper protein like egg, or milk in sachet or other sources of protein like soybeans which is cheaper”, he said.