From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) Moor Plantation, Apata, Ibadan, which is under the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Prof Veronica Obatolu, has given reasons why Nigeria is rated second global highest with under-five stunted children.
She spoke at the third academic symposium of the National Association of Catholic Theology Students (NACATHS), Dominican Institute, Ibadan, on the theme ‘Strategic Impact Investment in Agriculture and Agro-Allied Industries: An Insight,’ held in Ibadan. The NACATHS’s president, Kenechukwu Okonkwo, was the chief host.
According to Obatolu, “Nigeria has the prevalence rate of 32 per cent of under-five stunted children. With this percentage, Nigeria is the second highest globally. In every 10 children, at least three are malnourished. This is why some of our children are not doing well in school; what you eat affects your intellect. About seven per cent of child-bearing women in Nigeria are malnourished. Without gainsaying, we need to go back to agriculture. This is the only way forward, this is the only way the country can grow.
“The church also can key into this sector so that they can contribute to not only the members, but also to the economy of the country they find themselves in. Investing in agriculture and agro-allied industry is essential to the church future and wellbeing of proclaiming the gospel with more justifiable economic development.”
Obatolu, a professor of human nutrition, advised churches to invest in agriculture so that they would not depend solely on the contributions of their members, for administration, was optimistic that the diversification would not only help to stabilize the finances of churches, it would also help to employ some church members to work in the farms. She described agriculture as the oldest occupation of mankind, saying it remained the solution in financing and boosting the economy of the church and nation.