By Blessing Nnabuife
Professor of food and nutrition in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Nkiru Meludu has proffered lasting solutions to food insecurity in Nigeria.
The food expert dropped the hints during her lecture at the 85th Inaugural Lecture of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, held recently.
Nkiru Theresa Meludu is a Professor of Food and Nutrition Security and Agricultural Extension Services, the immediate past Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and former Head of Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.
Prof Meludu, during her lecture, titled, ‘Trajectories of Food and Nutrition Insecurity: Dynamic and Equilibrium’ expressed gratitude to God for the gift of life to witness the 85th inaugural lecture in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, and the second inaugural lecture from the Faculty of Agriculture.
She emphasized that food is very crucial for the survival of man be it from plant or animal sources.
“A nation with fragile food security will have fragile internal security, resulting to a population of people with bottled anger awaiting explosion”.
According to Prof Meludu, the global hunger index by International Food Policy Research Institute 2022, said that the major way to reduce hunger is by upholding the components of food security (availability, accessibility/affordability, stability, safety, and utilisation/adequacy) at the individual, family, communities, state and national levels.
“Also, the African hunger index by International Food Policy Research Institute 2022, indicated that 702 and 828 million people in the world faced hunger in 2021”, she informed.
She further explained, how sustainable development goals can be achieved to end hunger by ensuring that all people, both the poor and vulnerable (infants, pregnant/nursing mothers, people living with HIV/AIDs) have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.
“Food and Agriculture Organisation has projected that about 25.3 million people in Nigeria will face acute food insecurity from June to August 2023, a quarterly release by the global organisation shows that the figure projected is higher than the 19.45 million people in forecasts in 2022”,
“There is no need for a prophet to show us that people have started feeling the pinch. This is the reason why something needs to be done as regards today’s hunger caused by several issues including the removal of subsidy without palliatives”.
Prof Meludu stated that her contributions towards ameliorating the challenges of food and nutrition security cut across the major areas of her specialisation including Agricultural Extension, Home Economics, Gender and Generational, Climate, Organic Agriculture, Entrepreneurship and Artificial Intelligence.
She stated that her team in 1999, ascertained the role of women in sustainable food security in Nigeria. ” The results showed that women play a significant role in food availability and food security”.
She further noted that “value addition to agricultural produce is a possible potential in reducing poverty and improving food insecurity and malnutrition, adding that achieving food security in the country is of great importance to the sustainability of the nation’s development as it can boost other sectors of the Nigerian economy.
She also mentioned the fact that the different and standardized measuring units in many Nigerian markets are part of the fighter for food security.
She urged the Price Control Board to provide special standardised containers with government inscription of the unit it represents.
Prof Meludu also showcased her value-added products; sweet potato and herbal tea for good health and sustainable food security, leading to food diversification. She has also conducted pieces of training on nutrition-sensitive and healthy food consumption patterns in many rural and urban areas.
“The significance of the discovery of chronic fighters of food security and the trajectories of food and nutrition insecurity determined the dynamism for a solution through equilibrium in the dynamics for sustainable food and nutrition insecurity”.
She concluded that the most outstanding dynamic is the addition of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to equalise the dynamics and form the equilibrium.
The former Dean recommended that the use of Artificial intelligence is highly conceivable in order to address the consequences and to be on a sustainable healthy trajectory for food and nutrition security within the country.
Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University and the chairman of the occasion, Prof Charles Okechukwu Esimone commended Prof Meludu for the wonderful exploit she has been making.
He said Inaugural Lectures are designed to “show or showcase our very best and allow them to show us the very best in a simple language that will be easily understandable to the town and gown why they so merited to be professors”.
He further said that “the inaugural lecture series that we have been having is contributing very visibly to the accomplishment of the growth and development of the academic”, adding that the topic prepared and lectured by Meludu, was appt because it talked about food security and it is affecting everybody.
Esimone appreciated all the members of the inaugural lecture committee for the wonderful leadership shown by the team.
The event had in attendance University management, members of the University community, friends of the University, , including DVC (Adim), Prof Joseph Ikechebelu, DVC (Acad) Prof Frederick John Chidi Odibo, Prof SC. Meludu, Prof Richard Uwakwe (Chairman Inaugural Lecture Committee), Prof Pat Mba (IIP HEPAN/Council), Prof Abraham (Chairperson BoT Association of Deans of Nigeria), Dr Jude Obi (President of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria), Abagana Welfare Union (Women), among others.