A new survey report has revealed that low income, poor food culture and dietary practices are the majorly responsible for the lingering protein deficiency in Nigeria.
This was revealed at the unveiling of the Nigerian Protein Deficiency Report 2020 held in Lagos, themed “Unpacking the Numbers, Exploring the Issues”.
Other disincentives for the consumption of most protein food sources in Nigeria, according to experts can be traced to socio-economic, cultural and political factors.
The report was presented by Obaro Agalabri, leading research analyst and Service Line Lead at IPSOS, the research firm that conducted the survey noted that the rising cost of food items and the low levels of income for households remain the major deterrents to adequate protein intake in Nigeria.
Agalabri in his presentation explained that the National Bureau of Statistics has confirmed more than half of the labour force in Nigeria is unemployed, which reduces the purchasing power of households.
The reduction in purchasing power inherently leads to a lack of funds to buy nutritious foods as families resort to consuming cheap foods with low nutritional values
“It is therefore no surprise that incidence of low protein intake is more prevalent in the Northern states and lower SEC’s (socio-economic classes).”
Commenting on this, the Chief Lecturer, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Lagos, Dr. Beatrice Oganah-Ikujenyo praised the report for highlighting the specific obstacles and barriers hindering the reduction of protein deficiency in Nigeria.
She cited data from the report concerning the meal consumption patterns of Nigerians, which show that carbohydrates like rice and pasta are the most consumed foods.
According to her, to effectively tackle protein deficiency, individuals must eat a protein-rich diet, daily, especially children, pregnant and lactating mothers.
She noted that the lower socio-economic classes are the most vulnerable to protein deficiency, stating that there is a need for more collective
to drive more awareness and affordability for daily protein intake among households.
She stated that individuals need to embrace positive food cultures, as cultures and superstitions hinder the growth and development of children, with children rarely given large meat and fish portions.
She urged Nigerians to consume protein-rich foods like soybeans, fish, eggs, and groundnuts regularly to mitigate the impact of protein deficiency in the country.
On his part, the Provost, College of Agriculture, Osun State University, Prof. Adetunji Kehinde stated that promoting intentional agriculture can help overcome the barrier to healthy nutrition in Nigeria.
According to him, the establishment of farmlands where arable crops can be grown will not only provide employment but will tackle protein deficiency from the grassroots.
“With proper agricultural infrastructure, farmlands can be established in different regions of the nation.”
The farms will also create employment across regions, thus helping to significantly lower the unemployment rate.
He said the Nigerian Protein Report 2020 indicated that there is a shortage of soybeans in the country.
Soybeans are an important protein food source, both to humans and livestock, and are especially important in poultry and aquatic feeds.
Supporting his claim, Dr Oganah-Ikujenyo said carbohydrates are easy to cultivate, harvest with a short period of time making them cheap and readily available in the markets.
The session was moderated by Dr. Adepeju Adeniran, a public health expert, co-founder and National Chair of the Nigerian chapter of the Women in Global Health, a multi-national movement of women in health care devoted to global health improvement.