The Nigerian federal government has signed a memorandum of understanding with NASCO Foods Limited, Jos for commercial production of high nutrient density special biscuits for the national school feeding programme.
Speaking at the occasion at the weekend, the Director General, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Gloria Elemo, said the MoU would increase pupils’ enrollment into schools.
According to Vanguard, the initiative which is a private public-public partnership is expected to create job opportunities for the unemployed youths in Nigeria. Details of how this will be achieved were however not disclosed.
Elemo stated that the strategic collaboration was one of the approaches that the institute considered and adopted to partner with relevant organizations that can make significant contributions to the realization of its mandate.
According to her,‘‘This is based on the realization that an Institute- on its own cannot· make the much desired impact without collaborating with relevant organizations. Collaboration with strategic partners/organizations which could commercialize the Institute’s many innovations.’’
She maintained that technology was the way to go for Nigeria to diversify her economy, most especially at this juncture of our national history when the nation is giving serious attention to utilization of indigenous technologies and the instrument of science and technology as a potent strategy to diversify the economy to provide alternative revenue sources.
The project she said was conceived out of the need to address the increasing food insecurity which had become a major concern especially for children between the ages 5 and 13 who are mainly primary school children.
Speaking further, Elemo said: ‘‘It is heartwarming that the federal government of Nigeria is conscious of the need to provide adequately for the future generation through the national school feeding programme. The programme will lead to increase in pupils’ enrollment in schools; boost school attendance and child nutrition; enhance retention rates; promote general improvement in cognitive abilities of children as well as catalyzing tremendous economic stimulus,” she added.
The biscuit is developed from indigenous crops which will be commercially produced domestically with this arrangement.
The FIIRO DG said the agency was already working with other strategic partners to produce drinks that will complement the biscuits for effective-administration of the national school feeding programme.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President of Nigeria, had revealed in September 2015 that President Buhari plans to give primary school children free meals. The affirmation came after the ruling APC denied that it was part of its campaign promises to give school-children free meals. The denial received public outrage forcing the Buhari government to backtrack, re-stating its commitment to the “one meal a day” programme promised during the campaigns. What is however not clear is if the “one meal a day” promise has now been replaced with the NASCO biscuits programme.