The Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) celebrated their 9th Regional Food Science and Technology Summit: Repositioning Nigerian Food for Global Market Accessibility from 5-8 June 2023, at the NECA House Events Centre, in Ikeja, Nigeria.

NRI’s Dr Louise Abayomi joined the panel on 8 June to share insights on indigenous foods for global markets and NRI’s contribution to achieving sustainable, diversified and efficient food systems in low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria. Louise is an Associate Professor of Food Technology and Food Systems Management at the NRI.

LOUISE ABAYOMISpeaking at the event, Louise said, “historically, each region in Nigeria should have a comparative advantage with key crops, such as cashew, rubber, cocoa, and others, but the sector has not been developing to keep up with climate variability and global trends.” She added that currently Nigeria’s research institutions are underfunded, with approximately 1-2% of the national budget going towards this, rather than 10% as committed in the Malabo Agreement. Louise pointed out that the EU ban on import of Nigerian beans and controls at the border for Egusi melon over the past 10 years were symptomatic of endemic issues still facing many value chains, which, when overcome, will have a positive effect on other crop value chains. “Private and public collaborations are key to making rapid advances towards the SDGs, through sharing of science and technology, and the NRI would welcome such from our diverse pool of experts in the field,” she emphasized.

A related NIFST event to mark World Food Safety Day (WFSD) occurred in Abeokuta on 7 June at the DLK Event Centre in Ogun state, southwestern Nigeria. Notable highlights from the panel discussion on WFSD included the need to support stakeholder awareness on food safety and quality, and infrastructural improvements in wet markets. Capacity building in food handling (good practices), and stronger collaboration between industry and research institutions were also underscored. It was noted that there are emerging success stories with traditional foods, for example, instant ogi pap - a fermented cereal pudding, and SpiCity - a jollof rice seasoning powder manufactured by Integrated Promotion Limited. However, improving standardisation of Nigeria’s traditional foods and branding were also flagged as significant areas for harmonisation. 

The Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich has been collaborating on several projects to improve Nigeria’s Food Systems with key stakeholders over several decades.  The University of Greenwich is in the top 100 in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. These rankings measure success in delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which reflect our positive impact on society.