Raheem Akingbolu writes on how the effort of DUFIL Prima Foods Ltd, manufacturers of Indomie instant noodles, is helping Nigeria to uplift the nutritional standard

Good nutrition and sanitation are essential for good health and a healthy society, yet they are beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. In 2002, Nigeria launched its National Policy on Food and Nutrition, with the overall goal of improving the nutritional status of all Nigerians. This policy sets specific targets, which include reduction of severe and moderate malnutrition among children under the age of five by 30% by 2010, and reduction of micronutrient deficiencies (principally vitamin A, iodine and iron) by 50% by 2010. Today in Nigeria, malnutrition remains a great challenge, particularly for mothers and children. It contributes to the deaths of about half a million children each year — or about 1 out of every 2 child deaths — and imposes a staggering cost to the nation.

Diseases like diarrhea, tuberculosis, cholera etc. have become prevalent owing to deficiency in proper nutrition. It is equally important to note that while Nigeria is grappling with the challenge of under nutrition, the incidence of obesity and related manifestations of over-nutrition are beginning to emerge at relatively significant levels.

With all these challenges, the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition is of the opinion therefore that, investing in nutrition makes economic sense because it reduces health care costs, improves productivity and economic growth and promotes education, intellectual capacity and social development for present and future generations. As pointed out by the UN on how to solve the nutrition challenge in the world, the organization advised specific nutritional interventions directed at particular problems or groups. It is in line with this necessity that DUFIL Prima Foods as part of its commitment in building capacity and assisting in training high level Nutrition and Dietetic manpower in the country is shouldering this responsibility by investing in manpower development in this regard.

Since 2009, DUFIL Prima Foods had been awarding twelve MSc students of Nutrition and Dietetic, from several universities spread across the country, on a yearly basis, scholarship opportunity worth millions of Naira to support their academic pursuit. The objective of the award is to nurture the Nutrition and Dietetics students to be competent, innovative, responsible, and providing a broad based functional and practical solution that will foster dynamic professionalism in foods processing sector of the country. To date, a total number of 84 Nigerian students studying Nutrition and Dietetics at masters’ degree level have been awarded.

Speaking during the 2015/2016 cheque presentation ceremony for the newly shortlisted 12 students, the Brand Manager, Indomie, Mr. Amber Yadav, stated that the scholarship scheme is a noble cause the brand is pleased to be associated with, as it serves as a means to give back to the society, and most especially in the field of Nutrition and Dietetics where the brand is a major player.

Adding his voice, the Group Public Relations and Event Manager, DUFIL Prima Foods Plc, Mr. Tope Ashiwaju, also re-emphasized that DUFIL is a socially responsible brand that is committed to the development of improved expertise in the field of nutrition. According to him, “Aside from the company’s desire to build manpower and impact positively in the health sector, owing to the fact that a lot of sicknesses and diseases are caused by malnutrition and intake of the wrong diet, DUFIL is recognised as one of the foremost health-friendly food companies in Nigeria, and in order to maintain this, the organization would need the services of well-trained nutritionists and dietitians, which we hope this initiative will go a long way in achieving.”

The coordinator of the DUFIL M.Sc. Nutrition Award, Prof. Tunde Oguntona of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, commended DUFIL Prima Foods for sponsoring the scholarship award, which he said had recorded huge success and growth since its inception in 2009. Explaining the aim of the scholarship, Prof. Oguntona said the scheme is meant to promote the study of Nutrition in Nigeria.

The 12 recipients of the scholarship grant, which were drawn from a pool of over a hundred entries received nationwide, were selected from five different universities and twelve different states that cut across the six geo-political zones of the country for the 2015/2016 academic session. Each of the awardees received a total sum of N450, 000, covering tuition, research grant, study materials and stipend for the duration of their Post-Graduate programme.

Indomie, one of the products from the stable, has made a remarkable impact on the Nigerian culinary landscape in its twenty years in the Nigerian market. It has grown to become a trusted household name, synonymous with quality, taste and value. The Indomie range of products command a substantial degree of brand loyalty and an enviable “top of mind” status amongst its consumers who cut across all demographic segments in Nigeria.

Currently, the Indomie brand of instant noodles holds approximately 70% market share of the Nigerian market, which has an estimated annual growth of 40%. Until 2006, the figure was close to 100% market share. There are currently 17 instant noodles producers contending for Indomie’s market domination, with more expected to commission production in Nigeria. Notwithstanding, the Company has continued to leverage its strong brand equity in order to maintain its competitive advantage and sustain the growth and profitability of its business activities.

Satisfying consumers’ demands for healthier products is essential to meet the needs of the market and DUFIL has demonstrated this with its support once again with the Nutrition empowerment for post graduate students. It is no doubt that, Nutrition remains a bedrock of development. It’s only healthy people that can make significant contribution to the development of the nation. Reducing malnutrition requires attention to the three areas of food, health and care. And as pointed out by the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition, to achieve sustainable improvements in Nutrition, capacity development is essential in food and healthcare delivery.