Federal Ministry of Science & Technology, FIIRO and NASCO Foods Ltd. Sign MoU on Commercial Production of High Nutrient Density Biscuit for School Feeding Programme
The event started about 11.45am at the Minister’s Conference room with the Hon. Minister, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu as the Chairman. The event was anchored by the Deputy Director Press, Mr. Akinyemi who introduced the Hon. Minister, the Permanent Secretary, the DG/CEO FIIRO, Directors and Principal Officers of the Ministry who were present at the occasion. He also took time to introduce the DG/CEO, National Office Technology Acquisition and Patenting (NOTAP), Dr. Ibrahim and the DG/CEO, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Haruna who were also present at the occasion.
After the introduction of men of the press (which include NTA, AIT, Channels TV, TVC, Guardian, The Nation, Sun, Tribune, Leadership, Aljazeera, VOA, VON, FRCN, Nigerian Pilot, Daily Trust, BBC, and so on), he politely asked the FIIRO team and the Nasco team to do self introduction. On the Nasco’s team were: Alh. Sani Ibrahim, the Representative of Chairman; Mr. Idris Nasreddin, the Managing Director; Mr. Shehu Nyelong, the Admin. Manager and Mr. James Nwunze, the Marketing Manager. On the FIIRO team were: Dr. Dele Oyeku – Director, Extension & Linkage; Dr. O. Oluwole – Director, Food Technology; Mr. J.O Oderinde – Director – Finance & Accounts; Mr. T.O Ajayi, Deputy Director – Planning, Research & Statistics; Mrs. I.O Layode – Deputy Director and Head, Abuja Liaison Office and Mr. Patrick Usen, CEO, Inter-Heritage Promotion (a Consultant to FIIRO).
The Permanent Secretary, FMST, Dr. (Mrs.) Habiba Lawal delivered the welcome address and stated the purpose of the gathering which was to sign the MoU between FMST/FIIRO and Nasco Foods Limited on Commercial production of High Nutrient Density (HND) biscuit intended for the National School Feeding Programme.
After the welcome address by the Permanent Secretary, the Director-General/CEO, FIIRO, Dr. (Mrs.) G.N Elemo spoke about the product. Dr. (Mrs.) Elemo said the journey towards development of the High Nutrient Density (HND) biscuit started way back in 2007. She said the project was a key project under the Institute’s Food and Nutrition Security Programme conceived out of the need to address the increasing food and nutrition insecurity which have become a major concern especially for children between the ages 5 and 13 who are mainly primary school pupils.
The DG/CEO FIIRO said the product has obvious advantage at addressing food and nutrition insecurity of school age children because the product can meet one third of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for both macro and micro nutrients for school age children (ages 5 – 13years). In concluding her remarks about the product, the DG/CEO FIIRO, Dr. (Mrs.) G.N Elemo expressed sincere appreciation to the Hon. Minister, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu for championing the course of the project and for believing in FIIRO and its ability as an agent of change for job creation, wealth creation, and national prosperity. She assured the Hon. Minister that with Nasco Foods Limited and Inter-Heritage Promotion Limited in the partnership nothing will go wrong with the National School Feeding Programme. She also commended the entire leadership of the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology most especially to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. (Mrs.) Habiba Lawal for providing the driving force for the project.
On partnership that works, the Chairman, Nasco Group represented by Alh. Sani Ibrahim tendered the apology of the Chairman, Nasco Group for not being able to attend the ceremony. The Chairman said NASCO Foods Limited is an indigenous company that has been in existence for about 50years with adequate capacity and experience to produce biscuit products to feed estimated 25million children in public primary schools under the National School Feeding Programme on daily basis. He further said that Nasco Group has a lot of experience working with government to deliver effectively on government projects as was done especially during the PTF programme on production and supply of quality rugs in Federal government teaching hospitals all over Nigeria. The Managing Director, Nasco Group, Mr. Idris Nasreddin corroborated the Chairman’s remarks; he said that Nasco has the wherewithal to produce the HND biscuit with all safety consideration to ensure product safety. He further said that the company is ISO compliant with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) put in place to ensure product standardization and safety.
Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, the Hon. Minister of Science and Technology, during his keynote address at the occasion, said the signing of MoU between the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology and Nasco Foods Limited to commercially produce the HND biscuit is a boost to the National School Feeding Programme of the Federal government.
He said the MoU signing was necessary to begin the implementation process of HND biscuit for the National School Feeding Programme targeting about 25million pupils in public primary schools in Nigeria. The Hon. Minister said the HND biscuit is one of the 250 products of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, Lagos, which will meet, at least one third recommended dietary allowance to address the challenge of nutrition insecurity, enhance school enrolment, increase retention ability of pupils as well as enhance cognitive ability of the children who are future leaders. The Hon. Minister expressed his satisfaction with the activities of FIIRO and said the leadership of the Institute under the DG/CEO, Dr. (Mrs.) G.N Elemo deserves commendation of the Federal government for coming to the rescue by providing indigenous product suitable for the National School Feeding Programme at this moment of our national history.
The Chief Executive Officer, Ajere Holding BV, The Netherlands, Engr. Steve Ajere was received at the Institute on Thursday, 25th February, 2016 by the Director-General/CEO of FIIRO, Dr. (Mrs.) G.N Elemo. The technical visit was to discuss collaboration on Drying Technology for food and agro-allied products.
The DG/CEO while welcoming the guests noted that it was high time to develop perfect drying systems for food and agro-allied products to address the issue of food waste due to increasing rate of postharvest losses currently estimated between 35% and 50% for most agro-commodities in Nigeria.
She further said that the recent ranking of Nigeria on Food Waste by FAO as number 188 out of 192 nations of the world is worrisome. The DG/CEO while briefing the guests on the various types of dryers developed at the Institute said partnership with any organization to address critical issue of food waste is a welcome development by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology under the leadership of the Hon. Minister of Science & Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu who has taken food preservation as topmost priority for the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Engr. Steve Ajere in his presentation was of the opinion that the drying solution developed by his company in Netherlands will definitely compliment the Institute’s research effort at development of appropriate drying system for Nigeria. He said his company’s drying technology has been tested in Netherlands and the dryers have the ability to dry at specific temperatures using a combination of drying principles including electromagnetic waves to ensure that only water is removed from the materials to be dried leaving all other components intact thereby ensuring no loss in nutritional values.
After developing a working agenda, both organizations concluded to work together on technology transfer and development of appropriate drying systems to address the issue of food waste in Nigeria.
Over sixty five students of Industrial Chemistry of the Covenant University, Otta, Ogun state, were at FIIRO on Wednesday the 17th of February, 2016 purposely to explore the riches and potentials of FIIRO’s technological breakthroughs and their relevance to their course of study. The students were received by Dr. Dele Oyeku, Director – Extension & Linkage on behalf of the DG/CEO of the Institute, Dr. (Mrs.) G.N Elemo.
The students who cut across various levels of the university were led to the Institute by their supervisors namely: Dr. Ajani O.O, Adedapo Emmanuel and Audu Oluwatosin. Mr. Chris Olumuyiwa, the Institute’s public relations officer gave an insight into FIIRO’s activities and possible ways by which the students can key into the entrepreneurship opportunities available through acquiring FIIRO’s technologies. He said the Institute is ready to partner with Covenant University on students’ entrepreneurship development programme to compliment the University’s effort. He commended the University for its giant stride in entrepreneurship development that has made the University to be described as an entrepreneurial University.
After the introductory talk, the students were taken round the Institute’s facilities mostly laboratories and workshops on a guided tour by a combined team of the Pubic Relations Unit and Partnerships Division of the Institute.
The students were very excited for the opportunity to see the practical aspects of what they have learnt in theory. Dr. Ajani O.O on behalf of Covenant University expressed profound gratitude to the DG/CEO and the entire management of the Institute for the opportunity given to the University for the Industrial Excursion. He further said that they are impressed by the array of commercializable products developed at the Institute and promised to organize a revisit to the Institute which will be a whole day affair.
The Country Manager, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, GAIN - Dr Francis Aminu and the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SBN) Development Officer Ms Uduak Igbeka were received at the institute on Friday, 1st July, 2016 by the DG/ CEO, FIIRO Dr Mrs Gloria. N. Elemo
The DG/CEO while welcoming them highlighted the institute's mandate, research activities and achievements over the years. She reiterated that value addition to indigenous food produce will ensure food and nutrition security in the country. Also that the establishment of Rehabilitation Centres and IDP Camps are indicators of the nutritional status of the country which mostly have affected the Children and the Elderly. She further said that FIIRO is willing to collaborate with GAIN on improving nutritional status of children age 5-12 years particularly as they are often neglected during Nutrition planning.
Some of the recent FIIRO’s achievements highlighted especially in the area of Nutrition include: Development of a gruel that contains protein and micronutrients to make a more nutritionally adequate food product (Soy-Ogi). Currently, plans are under way for an American Company to collaborate with FIIRO in scaling-up its production to commercial level; The technology for the production of high Nutrient Density Biscuit together with a nutritional drink for children 5 - 12 years old. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with NASCO Biscuit, Jos for the commercial production of this biscuit known as CHAMP as the Federal Government is considering its incorporation into the National School Feeding Programme. The technology for the production of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition in children; Micronutrient Sprinkles for the prevention of hidden hunger (micronutrient deficiency); A Nutraceutical drug, made from the combination of two indigenous legumes, for the management of Sickle-cell Anaemia has been developed. In all, over 250 technologies have been developed and ready for commercialization at FIIRO, while about 70% of these are food-based.
In his response, Dr Aminu thanked the DG for the opportunity given to them to interact with FIIRO. He went further to highlight areas of immediate needs from FIIRO to include commercializing all the afore-mentioned technologies; Product and Recipe formulation. Quality analyses of foods before being put in the market so as to ensure the label claims are right and the need for FIIRO to immediately join the Scaling-up Nutrition Business Network and become a Technical partner. Furthermore, the Country Manager highlighted that GAIN is looking at improving malnutrition not only through the use of RUTF, but is also ready to use supplementary and complementary foods. GAIN is also looking at organising an annual Nutrition - themed fairs where stakeholders in Nutrition and Food producers can meet to interact and exhibit their products.
On her part, Ms Uduak Igbeka stated that SBN is the private sector alliance of the SUN Movement and was established to mobilize and galvanize the global business community to commit to scaling up nutrition; and support SUN countries to engage with business within a multi-stakeholder, country-owned, approach to scaling up nutrition. The SBN is convened by GAIN and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). She stated that SBN seeks to sign in companies across all sectors to improve nutrition in Nigeria. She stressed the need for FIIRO to come on board the network by becoming a technical partner, since according to her, institutes like FIIRO are needed in guiding food production industries in recipe formulations. Moreover, the SBN platform will provide an opportunity to showcase FIIRO as the institute and centre of excellence for nutrition education. There is therefore immediate need to have a FIIRO – GAIN (SBN) partnership with the signing of an MoU between the two organisations.
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