The attainment of the desired security and self-sufficiency in food production in Nigeria remains very feasible, given the abundant natural resources and diverse food crops available in the country.
An expert in food science and technology, Prof. Philippa Ojimelukwe, expressed this view at the 17th inaugural lecture of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), Abia State, saying that Nigeria has a lot of lessons to learn from nature if the goal of attaining food security could be achieved.
"We join the numerous scientists who have discovered functionality in the beauty of nature to affirm that we have diverse natural local food products which have the potentials to abate hidden hunger and combat malnutrition," she said.
In the lecture entitled 'Close to Nature' the professor of Food Science and Technology said that nature has been tailored to meet the food needs of human beings and therefore the absence of food security constitutes an aberration from the course of nature.
"Nigeria has the natural resources to meet her food security needs and achieve food self-sufficiency," she said, adding that "diverse foods are available as raw materials for the sustenance of an active healthy life".
However, Prof. Ojimelukwe said, notwithstanding the abundant natural resources, the nation was still facing drawbacks in the quest for food security and self sufficiency in food production due to inimical food habits and agricultural practices.
She lamented that poor harvest loss was still very high in the country while local crops traditionally used as foods "have been abandoned for incomplete adoption of western culture" while absence of adequate food preservation methods has confined nutrient intake of the populace to the vagaries of seasons.
"Nigeria needs to modify her food habits as well as agricultural practices in order to improve her food security situation," Ojimelukwe said in her inaugural lecture.
She also pointed out that policy issues and lack of implementation of policies affect the food security situation in Nigeria; hence "government should play a more dedicated role in implementing policies that affect food insufficiency, food security and poverty alleviation".
The MOUAU food scientist expressed hope that the race against hunger would eventually be won, given the deliberate research progress being used to advance the knowledge of the scientific nature of many local and unidentified foods.