From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
The United State Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched a new consumer food safety evidence and learning platform in Kebbi State.
The programme, known as ‘EatSafe’, are meant to support Nigerians in improving food safety, security, nutrition, and resilience, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Augustine Okoruwa, the Head of EatSafe Country Programme while speaking during the launching of the programme in Birnin Kebbi, said that EatSafe would support Nigeria in improving food safety, security and nutrition among others.
According to him,” following the national launching in Abuja on the 3rd of December 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a new Consumer Food Safety Evidence and Learning Platform, known as EatSafe: Evidence and Action Toward Safe, Nutritious Food on February 24, 2021 in Kebbi State.
“EatSafe will support Nigeria in improving food safety, security, nutrition, and resilience, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ensuring safe and nutritious food for all is one of the most imperative public health and social challenges of our time, hence EatSafe seeks to explore innovative ways to engage stakeholders, including the public and private sector, to improve food safety and nutrition security in Kebbi state.”
Okoruwa added that the activity launch in the state sought to increase stakeholders’ understanding of the EatSafe project and its role in improving the safety of nutritious foods in informal markets, knowledge on the implications of food safety issues in the state.
“It also seeks to get the buy-in for the implementation of the EatSafe project from the state government and other stakeholders in the state,” he said.
He explained that the project would run for five years, and was expected to increase and consolidate knowledge and evidence of food safety risk in informal markets in Nigeria, with a focus on the Kebbi state.
“The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is leading the implementation of this project with partners including the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a research center with expertise in food safety, and Pierce Mill Entertainment and Education, (a non-profit that specializes in social impact media for positive behaviour change) to generate evidence related to consumer-based demand interventions in order to shape informal markets to provide more safe food.
“The implementation will be in selected informal markets in Kebbi State,” Okoruwa said.
Earlier, the GAIN Country Director, Dr Michael Ojo, said,” We are now even more convinced that this project will bring about lasting improvement in safety of food in Kebbi State as we empower consumers to demand for safe and nutritious foods, ensuring better nutrition for all.”
He added that the EatSafe would help foster a healthier population in the country and help guarantee safe and nutritious foods for their families.
“This is In accordance with the United States Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS) for Nigeria’s objective of a well-nourished population, especially among women and children,” Ojo said.
In his remarks, Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who assured of a robust partnership in the project, expressed optimism that the all-important programme would reduce various health challenges.
“Eating good and nutritious food will drastically reduce hospital visits and the attendants reduction in the number of people falling sick.
“Because, people who always live in hygenic environment, eat healthy foods , will be minimally afflicted by ailments, especially contagious and food related ones.
“The ability of the people to produce and sell healthy foods, will add value to it and also bolster patronage . Doing otherwise will only reduce it’s value and attract less patronage, while it causes more health palavers,” Bagudu said.