Osinbajo: Malnutrition, Unhealthy Dietary Practices Threat to Health

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Yemi Osinbajo

By Deji Elumoye

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices could create unique threats to health and productivity for generation after generation.

Osinbajo who stated this while delivering an address at the inception dialogue on the UN food systems summit held yesterday in Abuja, noted that Nigeria is faced with population growth that exceeds growth figures handsomely.

He said that the issue of developing a sustainable food system is very urgent and more existential in Nigeria, particularly due to the fact that poverty has deepened in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.

The vice president while calling for global dialogues to develop a sustainable food system, said it is important that the nuances of the society and situation are introduced into the conversation so that the conversation is richer, fairer, and more just for the people.

Osinbajo said: ‘’I am most delighted to be with you this morning for this very crucial dialogue on the Nigeria Food System in collaboration with the United Nations to raise global awareness and shape global commitments towards mobilising food systems to address hunger, reduce diet-related diseases and strengthen plenary health.

‘’The Secretary-General of the United Nations deserves our commendation for this proactive initiative, especially its importance in urgently achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. I am told that the plan is for each member State to organize three dialogues; Inception, Exploratory and Consolidatory.

‘’It is a significant challenge to produce enough food for a rapidly growing population, especially given the changes required in modernisation of farming practices, mechanisation, and reduction of post-harvest losses.’’

Speaking further, he said there are also questions around ensuring environmentally sustainable production practices, creating empowering jobs and livelihoods, and building capacities to ensure sustainable and healthy food systems.

These issues, according to him, require expertise and experience, but also the views of those who will literarily be at the receiving end of these plans.

‘’At these dialogues, we don’t just want to hear the experts, we want to hear those at the receiving end, for whom all these plans are being made – the people of the country across all strata of society. This brings me to the matter of ensuring that these dialogues are accessible to all, meaning that they do not become one for experts essentially talking shop.

‘’In other words, the food we produce and eat, how we produce and eat, should be environmentally friendly and not destroy the environment for future generations. That seems simple enough. Aside from the inherent difficulties of recommending dietary changes, which is habit-forming and for most people, there are tough questions about what practices make sense in a high-income country and what will make sense in a developing country.’’

‘’But even as we debate these issues, we must bear in mind that somewhere else, debates are going on about defunding gas projects – about gas not being environmentally friendly enough. We have to take all of these issues into account, especially because we are debating issues in the international community, we are contributing to a global conversation,’’ Osinbajo said.