How to address food insecurity: Engineers

Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 3 August 2016 | 2,893 times

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The 4th Engineering Week of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Umuahia Branch, spiced with Public Lectures and Exhibitions, has ended with a charge to engineers to identify with various strategies aimed at addressing food insecurity in the country.

Major activities of the Week with the theme “Food Security in Nigeria: The Role of Engineers”, were held at the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Conference Hall, Umudike, near Umuahia.

In his message, the NSE President, Engr. Otis Anyaeji, enjoined engineers to use their strategic position to develop a template which would ensure food availability, accessibility and proper utilisation in Nigeria, when implemented by government.

Anaeji represented by Engr. Jonathan Umeh, said Nigerian engineers should be worried by the increasing number of the hungry population in the country and be in the forefront of tackling food insecurity, adding: “Our country is said to have dramatically risen with one in every four suffering chronic hunger steadily since 2007," as contained in the current world hunger and poverty report of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

In a keynote address entitled “Food Security In Nigeria: The Role of Engineers”, Prof. Victor Ndirika, who is also an Engineer, lamented that food insecurity in Nigeria has lingered due to poor mechanisation of food production, processing, storage and distribution processes.

Ndirika maintained that much food has been lost through the primitive process of food production and storage, adding that “we have not been able to produce food to our land's capacity in Nigeria due to the limitation of human power in food production, processing and storage.”

He noted that Nigeria could not fully achieve her vision of solving the challenges of food security without utilising and maximising the great potentials of her engineers who, he said, were  in the forefront of providing solutions to the problems of food insecurity in the country through mechanisation (the introduction of machineries) to boost agricultural and food production,

He insisted that if given enough financial, material and moral support from government, engineers have the capacity to mechanise the production, processing, storage and distribution of food across the country.

Also in another lecture titled “The Scorecard of food and Agro Industries in Nigeria and the way forward”, Dr. Joseph Chukwuma Adama, lamented that the performance of food and agro industries in Nigeria was below average, pointing out that a strong food and agro industrial sector would generate massive employment opportunity, make processed foods and services available for the increasing population and conserve foreign exchange by reducing importation of such foods.

He, however, said that ethical reorientation, a good communication and extension system and an honest, developed and implemented agricultural mechanisation policy were needed in the sector for the success of the policy.

President of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Engr. Kashim Ali, said it is incumbent on Engineers to proffer solutions to the unavailability of food in the country by improving agricultural facilities in the production of food by ensuring adequate agricultural mechanisation.

Ali who said it is high time engineers intensified the use of modern farm equipment such as tractors, harvesters, ploughs and others to boost agricultural production, also called on government to involve engineers in the construction of dams and irrigation for the provision of water to farms in the country to increase food production.

The COREN President represented by the COREN Council Member representing the South-East, Engr. Uche Ukpabi, charged the engineers to take up the challenge and fully participate in the construction of dams and reservoirs and installation of pumps for water distribution to the farms.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of NSE, Umuahia branch, Engr. Victor Ihediwa, explained that the engineering week was aimed at equipped engineers to effectively tackle the challenge of food shortage and insecurity in Nigeria.

Ihediwa described the engineering week as a time for engineers of Umuahia branch of the NSE to brainstorm and take stock “for the purpose of enhancement of professional and ethical practices of the engineers for effective service delivery to the nation and humanity at large.”

Highlights of the Week included the inauguration of the chapters of divisions Umuahia branch of NSE and commissioning of the branch’s website.

•Photo shows NSE President, Engr. Otis Anyaeji.

Source: News Express

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