The report of a recent research survey has revealed that Nigeria’s protein deficiency situation is approaching alarming proportions. The report, Nigerian Protein Deficiency Report 2020, was unveiled at the Protein Deficiency Webinar Series 8, held on Thursday, March 18, 2021, themed: “The Nigerian Protein Deficiency Awareness Report 2020: Unpacking the Numbers, Exploring the Issues”.
In presenting the report, Mr. Obaro Agalabri, the Service Line Lead (West Africa), IPSOS Channel Performance, revealed that 45 per cent of respondents do not consume protein daily and this is more prevalent in the North East and amongst the lower socioeconomic class. The survey was conducted by IPSOS, a leading market research company that carries out in-depth analyses of various issues, such as health statistics, population demographics and other related fields.
According to Mr. Agalabri, “Nigerians are consuming a minimal amount of protein daily due to the poverty level in the country. The recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicates that less than half of the working population is unemployed, a situation that no doubt reduces the purchasing power of households and general food purchases.”
Quoting the NBS report, Obaro explained that about 40 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty line, implying that more than 82 million Nigerians live on less than $1 a day. He noted that the average cost of protein per meal is N80, and that the majority of Nigerians would have to use more than 68 per cent of their income in purchasing protein foods to get enough.
The Nigerian Protein Deficiency Report 2020 revealed that there is a gap in protein consumption across Nigeria with cost and household income levels as the main hindrance to adequate intake of protein in the country.
Beatrice Oganah-Ikujenyo, chief lecturer, Department of Home Economics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, a panelist at the Protein Deficiency Webinar, stated that the cost of food is a problem that makes people underfeed. She noted that the average Nigerian eats food just to get satisfied without taking into consideration the nutritional content. This makes food consumption patterns to lean towards carbohydrates in Nigeria and due to this protein deficiency is still prevalent in the country.
She advised that a way to curb this is by consuming protein-rich foods like soybeans, eggs, beans, groundnuts and so on. She strongly advised that children should be prioritized in protein consumption in every home.
Another panelist, Prof. Adetunji Kehinde, provost, College of Agriculture, Osun State University, Oshogbo, stated that the agricultural sector has the potential to alleviate protein deficiency in the country. He argued that farmers should be supported with appropriate incentives to motivate them to produce more protein-rich food. There should be policy evaluation and intervention to curb the nutrition deficit in Nigeria, he added.
Adepeju Adeniran, National Co-chair at Women in Global Health Nigeria, who moderated the panel session, said that soybean is a good source of protein. She lamented that the Nigerian Protein Deficiency Report 2020 showed that a large number of Nigerian infants and young children are malnourished. To curb this, she called on Nigerians from all walks of life to use healthy food plate in meal planning.