Globally, a total of over two billion people currently suffer ‘hidden hunger,’ a condition of lack of vitamins and micronutrient in food.
With this, farmers have been called to pay more attention to the nutrition value of foods grown, rather than the quantity.
A Professor of Plant Nutrition, Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey, Prof. Ismail Cakmak, who raised this concern during a media training organised by OCP Africa, in Lagos for agriculture journalists, said Green Revolution, which focused more on production of more food, helped to increase issues of hidden hunger, as little attention was paid to producing nutritious food.
While speaking on the topic: Plant Mineral Nutrition In Addressing The Challenges of Food Security, Cakmak said food security and nutrition are always conflicting. “Food security exists when all the people at all times have both physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. It does not exist when people lack access to sufficient amount of safe and nutritious food.”
He said nutrient security should be one of the primary goals of food security programmes and producing enough nutrients for all people during all seasons should be the focus.
“Agriculture should not focus only on producing more food, but also on healthy and nutritious food. The world demand for food will continue to increase as population is expected to increase up to nine billion by 2050. Food demand will grow by more than the population growth.
“Africa will need triple food production by 2050, which will require substantial increase in nutrient input on cropland, along with good agronomic management. Most soils in Africa are nutrient poor. Soil nutrient mining is widespread, with a combined average depletion rate of nutrients, phosphorus and potassium of 54kg per hectare per year in Sub-Saharan Africa. Beside nutrients, many agricultural soils in Sub-Saharan Africa are also deficient in phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and micronutrients, which sustains balanced nutrients.”
Cakmak, who claimed that nutrient lost from Africa’s soil yearly are worth $4b, said nutrient depletion is a critical problem in the continent today, as at least 85 per cent of countries experience the challenge. “Around 40 per cent of farmlands have nutrient depletion rates than 60kg per hectare yearly.”
In his welcome address, the Managing Director, OCP Africa, Mr. Etiti Mohammed said the training was meant to broaden the knowledge of agriculture in the country.
The Vice President, Agronomy, OCP Africa, Ani Bughadi said the company has done lots of projects and initiative in Nigeria and hoping to do more with private establishments, adding that more needs to be done for the development of the sector in the country.