A total of 500 students, teachers and parents in Kebbi State are being fed genetically modified rice in a test to determine its acceptability for inclusion in the menu of the School Feeding Programme.
The test is being carried out by the Kebbi State Government, Global Alliance for Improve Nutrition (GAIN), and the World Food Programme (WFP).
The campaign is part of the Promoting Rice Fortification in Nigeria (PRiFN) project, to address micronutrient deficiency.
The pupils, teachers and parents are from 23 schools in Argungu, Kalgo and Birnin Kebbi Local Government Areas of the state.
Prof. Oluwatosin Adu, the Fortified Rice Cooking Programme Facilitator, said on Sunday, November 19, 2023, in Birnin Kebbi that Kebbi was chosen for the pilot project because it was the hub of rice production in the country.
According to him, the campaign is to introduce the micro-fortified rice to Nigerians and weigh its acceptability.
“After this acceptability test, we will take the feedback 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 programme, so that school children and households can now eat fortified rice and stay healthy,” he added.
Adu explained that the cooking demonstration and sensory acceptability test were integral components of the PRiFN project.
“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,” he said.
Earlier, the state Coordinator of GAIN, Mr Seun Elere. stated that 23 schools were selected to participate in the cooking and eating demonstration.
Also speaking, Dr Yusuf Abdullahi of Federal University, Birnin Kebbi, said the introduction of the fortified rice would help to tackle 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 Deputy Governor, Hajiya Maryam Umar-Tafida, commended GAIN and WFP for the initiative.
She said that the fortified rice contains the necessary nutrients needed to keep the body safe from diseases.
“The event provides a unique opportunity to sensitise the general public on the benefits of fortified rice and how to cook it,” she said.
The PRiFN project is an initiative of GAIN and WFP to support federal government’s national micronutrient deficiency control strategy.
By Ibrahim Bello