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Nigeria emerges Africa’s first nation to develop zinc biofortified rice

By Femi Akinola

Nigeria has been described as the first country in Africa to make breakthrough in development of zinc fortified rice, Dr. Yusuf Dollah, the Country Manager HarvestPlus declared.

Dollah made the statement at weekend at the Federal Capital Territoty (FCT), Abuja, during the official commencement of Biofortified Zinc rice multi-locational trials across agro-ecological zones in Nigeria.

He said HarvestPlus is partnering the Federal Government as the latter created enabling environment for the development of these nutritious seed.

Accodring to Dollah, biofortifie zinc rice is meant to improve nutrition quality of staple food especially micronutrients often lacking in meals.

He said: ” This (Nigeria), is the first country in Africa developing the zinc biofortified rice. HarvestPlus works in over 40 countries and this varieties have been released in Asia and Ltin America but in Africa, Nigeria is the first country where we will be developing this varieties.

”We initially brought in seven varieties but while carring out the on-station trial, four came out best, so we had to drop three and proceed with the four. Aside these varieties, there are other set-up materials coming in from India and we will commission work on those as well so that Nigeria will continue to have access to nutritious food.”

Speaking on the partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria in developing these varieties of agricultural seeds, Dollah explained thus: ”After release of these varieties, our partnership doesn’t stop at the breeding level, we will continue to work together with the federal ministry of griculture anf food security to ensure that the seeds get to the farmers through the various seed compnies that we have and agro dealers within the communities so that farmers will have access to grow and consume them at the same time.”

In her response during the event, the Director Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Mrs. Sugra Mahmood, explained that food security is not just about availability of food but the most important thing is its nutritious quality.

Her words: ” The issue of food security is nit just about food but about the quaality of food that is eaten, that is why what we are doing is important, it’s about the biofortification of rice.

”One of the major micronutrients deficiency we have in the country is zinc because it is very important for different metabolic functions and development in the body of human beings. Looking at nutrition from only the health angle will not help if we don’t consider agriculture because your food should be your medicine.”

 

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