The Deputy Minister for Agriculture (Crops) at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Ghana, Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan has called on African Leaders to invest more in Agricultural Research as it is the foundation to sustainable elimination of malnutrition from the continent. This was disclosed at a side event held by the Capacity Development Unit of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa at the 7th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security in Ghana.
With the theme of the conference as “Investing in Food Systems for Improving Child Nutrition: Key to Africa’s Renaissance”, the Deputy Minister spoke about not just “filling the stomachs” but creating awareness on the importance of nutrition. “Emphasis should be placed on the consumption of nutritious and quality food by the children and the elderly…” he said.
Further, Dr. Alhassan stated that just as scientists are developing more nutrient-dense crops mainly targeting children, it is also crucial to explore the possibilities of formulating nutrient-dense foods for the elderly and different segments of the population based on their specific nutritional needs.
The Deputy Minister observed that developing bio-fortified crops can only happen through science hence, African leaders must invest more in agricultural research.
On bio-fortification, Dr. Alhassan said it can be duly embraced in the National and Regional Agriculture and Nutrition Policies and Strategies when there is adequate investment on Agricultural Research. He also remarked that Bio-fortification needs to be pursued through multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approaches as “no one sector can do it alone”.
Finally, he encouraged Scientists and Researchers not to be deterred, but inform policy makers of diverse issues being faced so as to ensure workable Nutrition Policies and Strategies.
Speaking also at the side-event, Dr. Laila Lokosong who is the Food and Nutrition Advisor at the African Union Commission said bio-fortified crops are good for pregnant and lactating women and children. He further addressed some of the continental Strategies informing Bio-fortification in Africa as follows: