Its President, Prof. Maduebisi Iwe, made the call at the eighth Regional Food Science and Technology Summit, organised by NIFST Western Chapter, in conjunction with the University of Ibadan on Monday in Ibadan.
Theme of the event was: “Processing and Preservation: A Panacea To Food Security and Wealth Creation in 21st Century.”
Iwe, represented by Prof. Ramat Karim, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ilorin, said that the industry has a role to play in the development of Nigeria’s economy and need to be integrated into the country’s strategy for inclusive growth.
The Institute president said that food security exist when all people have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
He said that government must provide incentives and create enabling environment that would encourage investments in infrastructure, research, innovation and technology upgrade.
“Government should provide incentives for developing the industry and create awareness about the importance of processed foods.
“We can only hope to see the sector multiplying and contributing to our economic development, if government can contribute its quota to the sector,’’ he said.
Also, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. Kayode Adebowale, represented by Prof. Olatunji Oyesile, the Dean, Faculty of Arts, urged NIFST to address acceptability challenges facing Nigeria’s local processed foods internationally.
Adebowale said most Nigeria’s processed food do not passed international standard, adding that most Nigeria’s processed food got spoiled before getting into other countries of the world.
The vice-chancellor said that urgent steps must be taken by all stakeholders in the sector to address the challenges facing the processing industry sector.
The NIFST Chairperson, Western Chapter, Dr Ganiyat Olatunji, said that challenges facing food processing and development industry include: inadequate infrastructure, inadequate access to finance, raw materials and lack of proper storage facilities.
Olatunji said that the conference was organised to address these challenges and prefer solutions to surmount them.
She said that the institute was trying to draw a lot of initiatives in order to meet the farmers and other stakeholders, so as to address the issue of food security in Nigeria.
Olatunji assured Nigerians that they would see the positive effects of their initiatives.
Speaking, Mrs Adepeju Jaiyeoba, Chief Executive Officer, Colourful Gigg Nutrition, Nigeria, described food as the centre for human existence that could not be avoided.
Jaiyeoba said Nigeria needs to develop locally made nutritional food for children and stop over dependent on foreign foods that are so expensive.