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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Presidency explains private sector role in National Food Security Council

The Presidency has explained the role of private sector in the recently inaugurated presidential national food security council, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Senior Special Assistant to the President, (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, informed NaijaAgroNet that the private sector will play an advisory role in the National Food Security Council recently by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The President, he said, is aware of the huge interest indicated by the private sector since the composition of the Council was announced, as well as the reservations expressed by groups that felt left out.

“We wish to emphasise that the Council constituted by the President was more of a think tank that would focus mainly on policy, while various groups from the private sector would be called upon to make sectoral presentations from time to time,” he said.

The presidency further assured that everybody will be carried along as the Council will work closely with all stakeholders.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that the Council will be inaugurated by President Buhari on Monday, March 26.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Listeriosis outbreak looms in Nigeria, 15 African countries, says WHO

Listeriosis outbreak is looming in Nigeria and 15 other African countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), reports NaijaAgroNet.

Confirming this development, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, listed other redline countries to include Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

“This outbreak is a wake-up call for countries in the region to strengthen their national food safety and disease surveillance systems,” Moeti declared.

Experts have described Listeriosis as a bacterial infection most commonly caused by Listeria monocytogenes, which could cause severe illness, including severe sepsis, meningitis, or encephalitis, sometimes resulting in lifelong harm and even death.

They also said that listeria is ubiquitous and is primarily transmitted via the oral route after ingestion of contaminated food products

As said by WHO an estimated 200 South Africans have died since January 2017 as a result of contaminated ready-to-eat meat products that are widely consumed in the country and may also have been exported to two West African countries and 14 members of the South African Development Community.

South African health authorities recently declared the source of the outbreak as a factory in Polokwane, in the country’s northeast.

Isaac Oyimah with additional reports from ThePunch.

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NAFDAC returns to Ports, borders for effective regulation - DG


The Director General of the National Agency for Food andDrug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Christianah Mojisola Adeyeye, has assured Nigerians that the return of the agency to the nation’s ports and borders will enhance the regulation of importation of narcotic drugs and hazardous chemical substances, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This, she also said, would boost up the regulation of hazardous substances identified to be grossly abused and consequently, posing public health and security threats to the country.

A communique issued at the end of the National Chemical Security Training Conference in Abuja and held under the auspices of the Officeof the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and made available to NaijaAgroNet, with the theme “Towards a Secured Importation, Distribution, Storage and Use of Chemicals in Nigeria.”

NAFDAC DG noted that the return to ports and borders will once again, restore NAFDAC’s key responsibility of monitoring imports of controlled drugs and chemical substances which come in various forms, thus requiring expertise to monitor their industry-wide application and use.

The agency commended ONSA, the Chemical Society of Nigeria and other key stakeholders for recognizing NAFDAC as a key player in the national security architecture by this singular act of restoring the presence of NAFDAC officials at all designated Ports of entry and land borders.
She recalled that the laws establishing NAFDAC empowered the agency to statutorily operate at the ports. 

“The clearance of regulated products outside of the current legal framework poses immediate and life threatening risks to the public as unregistered, spurious and falsified products exit the ports without recourse to the agency’s approval for such products to be in the market,” she said.

Prof. Adeyeye further assured members of the public that NAFDAC will continue to contribute its quota to government’s efforts in securing lives and property by ensuring that only quality, safe, efficacious and wholesome regulated products and are consumed by Nigerians and smuggling of chemical weapons, harmful drugs and substances into the country is checked.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Diabetes monitor, a ‘game changer’

A new method of measuring blood glucose levels in people with diabetes is a significant advance in the management of the disease, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to an independent assessment by University of Manchester, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Derby Teaching Hospitals experts, the FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitor has been available on prescription in the United Kingdom from November 2017.

NaijaAgroNetgathered it works through a white disc adhered to the arm which connects remotely to a small monitoring device.

This design, NaijaAgroNet gathered is to replace the recommended 4-10 painful finger-stick blood glucose tests required each day for the self-management of diabetes.

Lead researcher from The University of Manchester and a Consultant Diabetologist at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Lalantha Leelarathna, noted that the disc is replaced every 14 days and could also be purchased by people with diabetes.

“Type 1 Diabetes can occur at any age but typically presents in childhood and requires lifelong insulin therapy. Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in people over 30-year-old and is initially treated without medication or with lifestyle modification and/or tablets,” Leelarathna said.

People with Type 1 Diabetes, Dr. Leelarathna said, should measure their blood glucose many times a day so they are able to adjust their insulin dose, stressing that having a blood glucose which is too high increases the risk of diabetes complications such as eye disease, foot ulcers and kidney disease.

Glucose levels which are too low can make the person with diabetes feel unwell and unable to function. If left untreated, low glucose can cause coma and seizures.

“Despite major progress in the care of people living with Type 1 diabetes, many fail to achieve their target blood sugar level – and that risks major complications.

“A key barrier in achieving near normal glucose levels is this need for frequent fingerstick blood glucose monitoring and that’s down to pain and inconvenience.

“Our review concludes that The FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitor works well for both adults and children.

 “The studies show it is accurate, comfortable and easy to use. It is associated with a reduction in low blood sugar levels, improvements in glycated haemoglobin levels and adverse events are low.

“Our assessment of the available evidence shows that for most patients, it is a game changer.”

Dr Emma Wilmot from Derby Teaching Hospitals said: “From our perspective, the FreeStyle Libre is a significant advance in the management of diabetes. Many users describe it as ‘life changing’.

‘The challenge in the UK is to now ensure that it reaches people living with diabetes. We are delighted that this device became available on the NHS drug tariff in November 2017.

“However, it is clear from the Diabetes UK map of access that this does not necessarily mean that it will make it into the hands of those who might benefit from the development of a postcode lottery for access would further add to the variation in diabetes care across the country and may adversely impact on outcomes.’

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Investing in school meals ‘win-win’ for West African nations – UN

The United Nations food relief agency has urged governments in West Africa subregion to spend more money on school meal programmes as these investments not only contribute to children’s better future but also create local jobs around agriculture, reports NaijaAgroNet.
“It is a win-win opportunity which governments must seize,” said Abdou Dieng, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Children enjoy healthy meals that make it more likely that they will stay in school and learn for a better future, while jobs are created and businesses develop.”
The call was made on African Day of School Feeding, annually observed on 1 March.
Increasingly, the food for the meals is sourced from smallholder farmers within the community. The idea is that home-grown school meals provide local farmers and businesses with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to more stable incomes, more investment, higher productivity and the creation of jobs for youth and women in the communities concerned.
In Burkina Faso, the introduction of yoghurt in school meals has had multiple benefits – a women’s group that collects milk locally has recently set up a processing plant for yoghurt that is now delivered to schools by young people on motorcycles.
Some governments in the region are showing a growing interest in investing more in national school meals programmes. The Government of Benin has allotted $47 million to feed 400,000 children over the course of five years in partnership with WFP, using a home-grown school meals model.
WFP’s regional school meals programme, which aims to assist about 2.7 million children this year, faces a $60 million funding gap. Without proper financing, the programme will fall short, leave many vulnerable students hungry and at risk of dropping out of school.


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Miss Ghana UK 2017 to hang out with tertiary students

Food for All Africa in partnership with Miss Ghana UK Foundation and Psychosocial Africa would next month, April bring together tertiary students within Accra to hang out with the current Queen, Miss Sabina Lawabea Awuni, reports NaijaAgroNet.
The hangout, NaijaAgroNet gathered would culminate in a social event aimed at promoting mental health and nutritional well-being among tertiary students in Ghana.
NaijaAgroNet also gathered from Food for All Africa that for every case of suicide reported, five people have already contemplated committing suicide, making a total of about 200,000 people contemplating the idea annually.
Sabina said that on the use of social get together as a means to suicide prevention as such programmes tend to give people listening ears.
According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Network for Anti-suicide and Crisis Prevention in Ghana, five or more people commit suicide every day in the country. 
The dominant cause of their death ranged from problems with parents, failure at school, inability of parents to provide needs, impotence and relationship related issues. 
Former Chief Psychiatrist of the Accra Mental Hospital, Dr Akwesi Osei reiterates that suicide is premeditated. It is not something one does the first time he or she thinks about it.
“There are three organizational stages of suicide, involving “getting used to,” the idea, the means and the opportunity or motivation,” he said.
He described the first stage as the preparation state where a person prepares to commit suicide. People who are naturally secretive, who come from broken homes, people with no loving childhood and people with traumatic stress disorders are susceptible.
The second, he said were the precipitate factors that triggered one to commit suicide. Some of the triggers were financial crisis, loss of a loved one and separation.
The final stage was when victims remained in a perpetual state of the desire to kill him or herself, and with the triggers including the lack of financial support, among others.
Hang Out with Miss Ghana UK 2017, The Jubilee Queen on Saturday 7th April 2018 at Tuo Restaurant and garden on Ring road Central will be an experience sharing session with the Queen, Sabina Awuni, mental health advocate, Nana Abena Korkor Addo  and Chef Elijah Addo in promoting mental health and nutritional wellness among tertiary students in Ghana through activities such as cooking competition,eating,games,let’s talk and music jams.
The Queen together with SRC executives of participating schools will in the morning cook and serve breakfast to patients of Accra psychiatric hospital.

Uj. N. Dominic/ED, Ops
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

ICTs essential to empowerment, success of poor rural women

The role of information communications technologies in supporting rural women's economic empowerment, voice and status, was the focus of discussions at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on 8 March, International Women’s Day, reports NaijaAgroNet.

IFAD, together with United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), will highlight the role that innovations in information and communications technologies (ICTs) can play in expanding rural women's opportunities in value chains and enterprise development, while increasing their access to education and information.

Many women, particularly young rural women, lack access to productive resources such as land, credit and technology. Women lag behind in terms of their access to ICTs, with only 41 per cent of women in low-and middle income countries owning mobile phones compared to 46 per cent for males. Nearly two-thirds of women living in the South Asia and East Asia and Pacific sub-regions do not own a mobile phone. Rural women regularly lack access to health care, education, decent work and social protection. As a consequence, they are more likely to be poor and they are vulnerable to economic and climatic shocks.

ICTs can go a long way to boosting economic opportunities for rural women. Mobile and smartphones, for example, provide access to real-time information on prices in different markets and allow more informed choices about where and when to buy and sell. Studies indicate that when women earn money, they are more likely than men to spend it on food for their families and the education of their children.

Uj. N. Dominic/ED, OP

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Sweden partners FAO to tackle dignity preservation @EMC

The Government of Sweden is partnering the Food andAgriculture Organisation (FAO) and The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as well as Arab Republic of Egypt to tackle issues on “Preserving Dignity and Sharing Responsibility: Mobilizing Collective Action for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Extra-ordinary Ministerial Conference slated for March 15 at the FAO Headquarters, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, NaijaAgroNet gathered, will afford UNRWA to host the event on the oldest and largest UN humanitarian and human development programme in the Middle East, serving over five million Palestine refugees.

NaijaAgroNet equally gathered that UNRWA is experiencing the worst financial crisis in its 70 year history and may be forced to suspend services.

The Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Sweden and Egypt will co-chair the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference in support of UNRWA, which the aim to actively support a collective response by the international community to protect the rights and dignity of Palestinian Refugees and ensure that UNRWA’s unprecedented funding crisis of US$ 446 million is urgently resolved.

NaijaAgroNet the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference will include special attendance of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms Federica Mogherini.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Africa: Scale up women's rights, nutrition activism

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, three African leaders and activists, Martin Chungong, Cameroonian Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, former Prime Minister of Niger and CEO of NEPAD Agency, and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN), come together to celebrate rural and urban crusaders who have transformed women’s lives and call for more activists to speak up for gender equality to fight malnutrition across Africa.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate not only all women, but especially the activists – rural and urban, men and women – who are transforming women’s lives. Right now, women and men across Africa are part of a movement sweeping across the world for women’s rights, equality and justice.
You do not have to look far to see – or hear – women on the continent slowly breaking the silence, joining the #MeToo campaign on social media, raising their voices in unison alongside many men and against the status quo, organising for better representation in decision-making and demanding land rights and equal pay for work of equal value.
However, with the increase in hunger and food insecurity seen last year across parts of sub-Saharan Africa – for the first time in decades – there are few rights as important to our future survival as the right to adequate food and good nutrition. This will not happen unless each woman and man, girl and boy is equally valued and has the same access to food. This means that, when we move from thinking to acting on nutrition and food security, we must also think and act on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Throughout history, activism in Africa has yielded enormous results. Many women have fought for justice for women before us. Today this is not only a moral duty, it is the smart thing to do. Recently, countries such as Senegal and Tunisia have made strides in ensuring equal rights for both women and men. Rwanda has secured the highest percentage of women in parliament in the world, whilst women in Liberia and South Sudan have been at the forefront of peace and reconciliation efforts. In the words of Nelson Mandela – our ‘own’ Madiba – whose 100th birthday we will celebrate later this year, "freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression". Sadly, no country has achieved this freedom yet.

Where there is food insecurity, rural women and girls are disproportionally affected and more likely to experience the multiple burdens of malnutrition. They are often tasked with making sure every family and community member reaps the benefits of the best possible food and nutrients available and are involved at each stage of the food value chain – from farm to fork.
Although there are no large differences in the number of malnourished girls versus boys under five years old, the difference in power between males and females really becomes visible as girls reach adolescence. Malnourished mothers, especially those who have not attended secondary school, are more likely to give birth to malnourished girls and boys, perpetuating a vicious intergenerational cycle – with devastating effects for the brain power of the continent.
It is widely accepted that good nutrition is a maker and marker of sustainable development. What we now know is that gender equality is a maker and marker of good nutrition. With this knowledge, the main message we have for policy-makers, leaders and activists all over Africa is to scale up investments in women for better nutrition and food security everywhere. Yet, without empowering lawmakers to unblock resources from national budgets and putting in place the necessary means and policies in support of women and girls, no initiative will succeed.

Yesterday, we gathered together to address a high-level event of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Johannesburg. This Alliance has been tasked with ensuring that food security and nutrition remain at the highest level of both political and legislative agendas. We brought together a regional platform for African Members of Parliament to make sure that women’s and girls’ rights, needs and agency are at the front and centre of all actions.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no one behind. Recently, the publication Nature estimated that no single African country is set to end childhood malnutrition by 2030, due to large disparities within countries themselves. This is in spite of the fact that most African countries, especially much of sub-Saharan Africa and eastern and southern regions, have shown improvements.

As members of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement – a voluntary push for better nutrition which today counts 60 countries, many of whom are African – we know that successful nutrition approaches are those that have sought to address and eliminate gender inequalities. Much of the reduction in hunger worldwide between 1970 and 1995 is a result of improvements in women’s status and access to decision-making, including in parliaments. We know that if we give a girl access to secondary schooling, more than 25 per cent fewer girls and boys will be stunted, and will be able to develop normally. The evidence is clear. Now is the time to act.

International Women’s Day is not just a celebration but a reminder to us to remain activists in our own right, not only as heads of agencies which promote equality, but also as individuals. Together, let us empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and make improved nutrition a reality.

We commit to scaling up women’s rights and nutrition activism in Africa, and beyond. And hope you will do the same. The #TimeisNow for the #TheAfricaWeWant.

*Contributed by: Op-ed by Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of IPU, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD Agency and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN)

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Rice importation: Okada riders operates new route in Katsina

Although the Federal Government of Nigeria banned the importation of foreign rice into the country,  there is a new route of importing foreign rice into the country through the Okada riders, reports NaijaAgroNet.
This route, source making rounds online showed are heavily protected with over 100 motorcycle riders, also known as okada riders carrying across from Niger Republic some bags of rice.
Some Nigeria have equally condemned the opening of the northern borders for rice importation with motorcycle, while in the south, especially via Lagos border with Contonou, Benin Republic borders are closed.
“Now they opened Niger Republic border and have been importing Rice from the Northern borders and have it repackaged,” source said.
Other concerned Nigerian also disclosed that the long queue of Motorcyclists transporting Rice to Kastina State, its evident that in a day, some six Trailer loads are being offloaded every day.
“One Nigeria. With two different laws. Rice importation is banned in the south and free duty in the north,” our source decried.
Further, some source claimed that as at November 2017, some of these bags of rice are brought in and sold for N7,000 in the north, while
 “It was easy to enter from Katsina but here in the South you see Customs Officers raiding shops and killing innocent people all in the name of attacking smugglers.  This is unfair,” our source lamented.

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Pix: Okada riders allegedly  transporting foreign rice from Niger Republic to Katsina State in Nigeria.