The Harvestplus Country Manager, Dr Paul Ilona, on Friday stressed the need for the country to improve its processed foods and nutritional value to avoid plague of malnutrition.
A statement by the organisation’s Communication Officer, Mr Ikechukwu Onyewuchi, quoted Ilona as making the call at a capacity building in Ibadan organised by Harvestplus.
The training was organised for women in collaboration with United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID), funded Market Development in the Niger-Delta (MADE).
He stressed the need for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to retain requisite nutritional food values and for mothers to make efforts to opt for such nutritious products.
Ilona said the training was organised to sharpen the skills of the women who were selected from Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Imo states.
He added that it would serve as pivotal roles in the drive for standardisation in the production and marketing of confectionaries that retain essential micronutrient contents.
“We want you to be focal persons in your different states, who would drive the charge for standardisation of products that retain essential nutritional values, such as vitamin A gotten from vitamin A cassava.
“We don’t want a situation whereby there would be different standards of the same product.
“This is to ensure that there is a minimum standard in pastries production among small and medium enterprises in the different states in the region,” he said.
The country manager said that the overall aim was to empower the people, especially mothers, to be able to make choices on nutritious foods so as to effectively tackle the menace of malnutrition.
“We want to put the power to make choices on nutrition in the hands of the people.
“When people take decisions to eat good food, especially when such comes from conventional dietary habits, government need not spend extra on the fight against malnutrition,” Ilona said.
The Gender Officer, DFID-MADE, Mrs Unyime Johnson, said that the training was an activity under MADE’s cassava pastries Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) programme.
She noted that it was an opportunity to upgrade the skills of women leaders, who would influence their communities and be able to assure the standards of pastries, on best practices.
“We found out that though women do most of the farm work, they do not own the lands on which they work, the land belongs to the men.
“So, we are targeting women in the area where they have competitive advantage, which is the pastries business.
“We want to show them that they can produce nutritious staples also from the pro vitamin A cassava as well,” she said. (NAN)