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General News of Monday, 20 November 2023


School Feeding: Pupils fed with genetically modified rice in pilot programme

Former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo eating with school children Former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo eating with school children

A total of 500 students, teachers and parents in Kebbi are being fed genetically modified rice in a test to determine its acceptability for inclusion in the menu of the school feeding Programme.

The Kebbi government, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are conducting the test.

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 LGA.

Oluwatosin Adu, the fortified rice cooking programme facilitator, said on Sunday 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 micro-fortified rice to Nigerians and weigh its acceptability.

“After this acceptability test, we will take the feedback to the federal government,” Mr Adu explained. “It’s expected that rice millers in the state will start producing fortified rice, and it will be integrated into the school feeding programme so that school children and households can now eat fortified rice and stay healthy.”

Mr Adu stated that the cooking demonstration and sensory acceptability test were integral to the PRiFN project.

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

GAIN coordinator Seun Elere said 23 schools were selected to participate in the cooking and eating demonstration.

“About 40 per cent are said to be suffering from anaemia in Kebbi; with the fortified rice, the number will reduce, and more people will live a healthier life,” Yusuf Abdullahi of the Federal University, Birnin Kebbi, said, stressing that the introduction of fortified rice would help to tackle malnutrition and anaemia.

The wife of the Kebbi deputy governor, Maryam Umar-Tafida, commended GAIN and WFP for the initiative.

She said fortified rice contains the necessary nutrients to keep the body 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 the federal government’s national micronutrient deficiency control strategy.