The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called for concerted efforts at improving the Nigerian food and cuisine production processes, without compromising the ability of future generations to access quality food, which is one of the cardinal principles of the present administration.
According to the minister, this is to reduce mass poverty and mitigate the effect of climate change through healthy and sustainable local food choices, preparations and consumption.
Alhaji Mohammed made the call at the occasion of the World Gastronomy Day celebration in Abuja on Friday, organized by the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, NIHOTOUR, in collaboration with the Embassy of The Peoples Republic of China and the Arts and Culture Department of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Abuja.
Noting that Nigeria has culture as its tourism competitive advantage, which is mostly defined by its foods and cuisines, Alhaji Mohammed, in a press release, signed by NIHOTOUR”s spokesman, Mr. Ahmed Sule, who was represented at the occasion by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ifeoma Adaora Anyanwutaku, urged the Nigerian tourism industry to seize the opportunity offered by gastronomy, which has become a major tourist pull-factor to enhance the country’s portfolio as a preferred tourist destination in Africa.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Senator Owelle Rochas Okorocha said that food, as one of the three basic needs of man, should be accorded priority attention in nation building for the care, wellbeing and healthy living condition of the people.
Senator Okorocha applauded the efforts of NIHOTOUR in organizing the first observance of the United Nations’ World Gastronomy Day in Nigeria since its inception in 2017 globally.
The senator promised to initiate the establishment of a Food Technology training outfit as part of the institute’s training mandate in hospitality.
Earlier in his welcome address, NIHOTOUR’s Director General, Alhaji Nura Sani Kangiwa, and initiator of the World Gastronomy Observance Day in Nigeria, said the country needs to strategically conceptualize its tourist products to attract continued traffic of both domestic and international tourists for sustainable growth of the Nigerian tourism industry in line with the Federal Government’s economic diversification efforts.
Kangiwa, who called for investment in the gastronomy sub-sector, said its multiplier effect and social value chains as a thriving industry, will help eradicate poverty and improve rural infrastructure.
He added that NIHOTOUR will continue to offer courses for the development of Nigeria’s unique tourism products and competitive destination management to enhance the human capacity base of the country’s travel tourism and hospitality industry.
In a keynote paper on the theme of the 2021 World Gastronomy Day: Nations, Foods, Cultures and Partnerships for Sustainable Developments, presented at the event, the chairperson of the FCT chapter of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, NSN, Dr Florence Ngozi Uchendu, said the emphasis on sustainable gastronomy is to address the devastating and threatening effects of climate change on global food supply taking into cognizance the roles of the five Sustainable Development Goals of; (SDG-2), zero hunger…end hunger; (SDG-6), clean water and sanitation; (SDG-7), affordable and clean energy; (SDG-12), responsible production and consumption and (SDG-13), climate action.
Dr. Uchendu then called for greater and wider public awareness programs in the media on sustainable processes of food production, preparation and consumption in ways that are not wasteful of not only what we put in as efforts, time and resources, but of the natural resources, so that these can be continued in the future without detrimental impacts to our environment and health.
Other speakers at the occasion include,: the Cultural Counsellor of the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China Mr. Li Xuda and the Director, Department of Arts and Culture of the FCTA Social Development Secretariat, Mrs. Awe, who both lauded the observance of the maiden edition of the World Gastronomy Day in Nigeria, noting that the event is the contribution of the organizers to create the desired public awareness on instilling the culture and methods of food production, processing and consumption in a sustainable manner that does not compromise the availability of food for future generations.
Side attractions at the occasion were cultural dances and the display of varieties of Nigerian foods and cuisines from the six geo-political zones of the country as well as of China, which guests and visitors were lavishly entertained with.