UN Foundation seeks Nigerian SMEs’ partnership to improve Agro-processing Sector

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The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) a Swiss-based foundation launched at the United Nations in 2002, has promised to collaborate with organisations to support Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), to promote quality nutrition of processed foods in Nigeria.

The foundation made the pledge in a maiden meeting organised for selected Enterprise Support Organisations (ESO) in Abuja.

This is contained in a statement signed by Mrs Yetunde Olarewaju, Planning and Communications Officer of GAIN Nigeria, on Thursday.

She said that the foundation had begun discussion with some selected ESOs to pick out areas which would eventually impact positively on food items sold to low-income households.

According to her, the intervention which is under the foundation’s Nutrition Impact at Scale (NIS) programme is also dedicated to providing the SMEs with technical expertise and access to funding opportunities.

“This will help to scale up their nutrition-filled food business through the ESOs,’’ she said.

She stated that the efforts were geared towards ensuring that Nigeria was on course to prevent high rate of malnutrition in the country.

“The rate of malnutrition in Nigeria still remains a growing concern for its citizens.

“The Global Nutrition Report released in 2021 reveals that though Nigeria has made some progress towards achieving its target for stunting, 31.5 per cent of children less than five years are still affected.

“This figure is higher than the average for the Africa region which stands at 30.7 per cent.

“It also states that Nigeria has made some progress towards achieving the target for wasting but 6.5 per cent of children less than five years are still affected.

“The figure is also higher than the average for the Africa region of 6.0 per cent,’’ she said.

She said that the prevalence of overweight children less than five years stands at 1.6 per cent and Nigeria was ‘on course’ to prevent the figure from increasing.

Olarewaju said that other interventions were developed with various stakeholders to counter the issues of malnutrition, especially among low-income households.

Some of the identified ESOs include: Fate Foundation, National Association of Small-Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Tomatoes and Orchard Producers Farmers Association of Nigeria and Potatoes Farmers Association of Nigeria.

“The NIS programme is one of the three components of GAIN’s Nutrition Enterprise Cluster.

“The programme aims at training identified ESOs on different ways will increase capacity of SMEs in food and agriculture sector to focus on improving the nutritional quality of food process,” she added.

According to Mr. Clement Musyoka, the project’s Programme Manager, attaching a nutrition lens to the activities of organizations that are willing and have the necessary resources will have an impact on the general public.

“We will leverage the work already started by GAIN to continue to bring attention to the nutrition-related issues and bring actionable knowledge and practical tools to the table.

“This will help relevant stakeholders and actors to better support and incubate SMEs to improve nutrition impacts,” he said.

In addition, Mr Manasseh Miruka, Head of the Nutrition Enterprise Cluster, said that the programme would partner with existing structures within the ESOs to strengthen the structures.

Representatives of the ESOs at the meeting gave their assurance to work with the foundation to ensure that there was a decline in the statistics of malnutrition in country.

(NAN)

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