By Chinyere Anyanwu, [email protected]
The high cost of protein sources and weak purchasing power of consumers have been identified as the major reasons for the low intake of protein-rich foods in the country.
This was part of the submissions contained in the 2020 Report on the Nigerian protein deficiency challenge with the theme, “The Nigeria Protein Deficiency Awareness Report 2020: Unpacking the Numbers, Exploring the Issues”.
Speaking during the official presentation of the report, the Service Line Lead (West Africa), IPSOS Channel Performance, Obaro Agbalabri, stated that the survey found that, “cost and household income levels remain the major deterrent to adequate protein intake in Nigeria.”
According to the report, “45 per cent (of respondents) believe high cost of protein-rich food is responsible for their low protein intake; 39 per cent believe their low income is responsible for their low protein intake; 10 per cent believe their little or low knowledge of its benefits is responsible for their low protein intake, while 4 per cent believe scarcity of protein rich foods is responsible for their low protein intake.”
It noted that compared to other global economies, Nigeria has a gap in its protein consumption, a situation which it sees as a nutrition crisis that requires continuous interventions to combat and reduce. It added that, “there’s still a high prevalence of deficiencies in Nigeria when compared to the rest of the world. We see that almost half of the population do not consume protein on a daily basis as against recommended consumption.”
On the preferred source of protein in the country, the report explained that beans remains the most commonly consumed protein source, with 81 per cent of the population preferring it, while soybeans comes behind.
Proffering solutions to the protein deficiency challenge, the report stressed the need to create greater awareness on the required intake of protein for optimum wellbeing especially in areas where the survey revealed lower intakes.
In addition, it called for deliberate efforts to ensure availability of affordable protein sources for households, especially the lower income groups, to boost daily intake.
It also emphasised the need for government and private sector players to partner for increased production and awareness.
Also speaking during the report presentation, Dr. Beatrice Chinyem Oganah-Ikujenyo of the Department of Home Economics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Oto/Ijanikin, Lagos, harped on government’s roles in tackling protein deficiency in the country.
She insisted that government has to muster enough political will to provide rural infrastructure including power, roads, water and markets, that will encourage youths and more investors to venture into farming of legumes and animal husbandry.
According to her, government should provide “interest-free loans with long moratorium to enable stability and sustainability of agribusiness; grant smallholder farmers easy access to land, farm inputs and implements such as improved seedlings, fertiliser, tractors, at subsidised rates.”
Dr. Oganah-Ikujenyo, equally called for sustained nutrition education on the importance of protein in ensuring health and wellbeing.
The Media Craft-sponsored report aimed at determining the level of protein deficiency among respondents, understanding the food consumption patterns of the target audience, and determining the preferred protein sources of the target audience, among others, was recently presented virtually.