Healthy Diets Should be Made Accessible, Affordable, FAO Insists

Qu Dong Yu
FAO Director General, Qu Dong Yu

Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has called for urgent action to ensure that healthy and sustainable diets are made accessible and affordable to all.

FAO Director General, Qu Dong Yu, in a speech marking the 2019 World Food Day Wednesday, lamented that latest data showed that malnutrition was increasing across all regions and income groups in the world and this called for urgent action.

Reading the speech of the Director General at an occasion with theme: “Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World” in Maiduguri to commemorate the World Food Day in the North-east Nigeria, FAO Head of Office in the region, Mr. Alhassan Cisse, said there’s need to address all forms of malnutrition.

He said this year’s World Food Day focused on healthy diets, noting that “eradicating hunger is FAO’s top priority, but we also need to address all forms of malnutrition.”

He added that in order to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to everyone, partnerships are fundamental, noting that “farmers, governments, researchers, the private sector and consumers, all have a role to play.”

According to him, “Farmers need better incentives to increase and diversify the production of high quality food.

“Governments need to adopt policies, food standards and regulations that prioritise the availability and affordability of safe and nutritious foods.

“Research institutions need to provide the best scientific advice and push the boundaries of knowledge and technology.

“The private sector can positively influence the food environment by adapting its products to modern nutritional recommendations.

“Individuals also need to think about their food choices and eating patterns through awareness and learning.”

He added: “FAO supports its member countries in their efforts to make sustainable healthy diets a reality for all.

“As a knowledge organisation, FAO strengthens the capacity of countries to evaluate and monitor the nutrition situation, supports knowledge transfer and provides food standards.

“We also want to increase the production and consumption of high quality food through investors in agriculture, regulatory frameworks, technologies and innovations.

“Food system transformation requires strong political commitment for collective synergy and a holistic design of agriculture and food chains. This is among the main objectives of the Hand in Hand Initiative we are about to launch for match-making partnership among public and private sectors along with NGOs. For FAO, nutrition indicates health, productivity/and overall well-being of people and prosperity of societies.”

He appealed for commitment to a better nutrition in order to allow for a happier, healthier and better life.

In her goodwill message, the Borno State Commissioner of Animal Resources and Fisheries, Mrs. Juliana Bitrus, said the state remained committed to addressing hunger in north-east Nigeria, adding that the fight against hunger and malnutrition is both national and global.