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Kebbi Govt, GAIN conduct test for 500 pupils, teachers on fortified rice in 23 schools

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By Abdullahi Faruk Birnin Kebbi

 

The Kebbi State Government, Global Alliance for Improve Nutrition (GAIN), and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) through the Promoting Rice Fortification in Nigeria (PRiFN) Project have conducted rice acceptability test for 500 pupils , teachers on fortified rice to 23 schools in the state.

During the test in Birnin Kebbi, the Fortified Rice Cooking Programme Facilitator, Prof. Oluwatosin Adu, said the state was unanimously chosen as pilot state for the fortified rice programme because it’s the hub of rice production in the country.

He added that the fortified rice campaign program was to bring it’s awareness to Nigerian populace for them to know the difference between the ordinary rice and the micro- fortified rice.

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Adu said that the state would be first to produce and eat micro- fortified rice in the country with the acceptability test.

“After this acceptability test program, we will take the feed back to the federal government.

“It’s expected that rice millers in the state would start producing fortified rice.

“And it would be integrated in the school feeding program of the government so that school children and households can now eat fortified rice and stay healthy,” he said.

Prof. Adu also explained that the cooking demonstrations and sensory/acceptability tests were integral components of the PRiFN project’s strategy to promote fortified rice adoption and consumption in the country ,particularly within Safety Net Programs (SNPs).

“This is by raising awareness of the benefits of fortified rice while showcasing its adaptiveness to cooking methods and local rice cuisines as well as its deliciousness,” the facilitator said.

Earlier, the State Coordinator of GAIN, Seun Elere stated that 23 schools were selected to participate in the cooking and eating demonstration in three venues of Argungu, Birnin Kebbi and Gwadangwaji with about 500 pupils, students, teachers and parents participating.

Also speaking, Dr Yusuf Abdullahi, from Federal University, Birnin Kebbi, said It was observed that Kebbi and Sokoto States had large number of malnourished children.

He said with the introduction of the fortified rice in the state and by extension in Nigeria, it would help to tackle challenge of malnutrition and anaemia.

“About 40 percent are said to be suffering from anaemia in Kebbi; with the fortified rice, the number will reduce and more people will live healthier life,” he said.

In her address, Wife of Kebbi State Deputy Governor ,Maryam Umar- Tafida, commended GAIN and WFP for fortified rice initiative.

She said it came at the right time as people of the state could eat rice that contained the necessary nutrients needed to keep the body safe from disease.

“The event provides a unique opportunity to sensitize the general public on the benefits of fortified rice and how to cook with it,” she said.

The PRiFN Project is an initiative of GAIN and WFP aimed at creating an enabling environment and building a sustainable business case to support the realization of the federal government of Nigeria’s ambition for rice fortification as a national micronutrient deficiency control strategy.

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