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Over $183m invested so far in school feeding programme – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that over $183 million has been invested so far in the National School Feeding Programme in Nigeria.

Osinbajo made the disclosure in Tunis, Tunisia, in a keynote address at the closing ceremony of the 20th Annual Global Child Nutrition Forum held at Four Seasons Hotel, in Tunis.

He said that over nine million  primary pupils are benefitting in 26 states already.

The vice president said that the programme has been, by all accounts, a remarkable success.

He said that by the end of 2018, with more states in the country joining the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme, it was set to become the largest school-feeding programme in Africa.

Osinbajo told the 353 delegates and experts from nine countries that the programme is strategic to human capital development.

The delegates included experts in the nutrition industry, United Nations officials from World Food Programme, Global Child Nutrition Fund, the World Bank and stakeholders that “Nigeria took the decision to embark on a school feeding programme as an important part of our human capital development agenda.

“By tackling the broader issues of eradication of poverty, food and nutrition security, and increasing school enrolment. It is becoming clearer that the 21st century will be defined by knowledge and skills.

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“The nations that are best able to present the most knowledgeable and most skilful citizens will prevail in commerce, in science and technology and of course, will enjoy the greatest prosperity and the longevity to enjoy the prosperity.

“ Nations that do not invest enough to produce the required level of talent and skills will be left behind; a farther distance than ever before in the history of mankind.

“By 2035, Africa will have 1.2 billion people.  Over 50 per cent of that number will be young persons under the age of 25. Today, 60 per cent of the unemployed in Africa are young people.”

Osinbajo said at a cost of 0.19 dollars per child per day, a balanced meal was provided for every one of the children as 9,300,892 million pupils in 49,837 public primary schools in 26 states across Nigeria benefitted daily.

According to him, at current numbers, the programme costs $1,767,169.48  per day and over 183million dollars has been invested so far in the programme.

“The programme employs 95,422 cooks, and over 100,000 smallholder farmers linked to the programme, supplying locally sourced ingredients.

“This translates to 594 cattle, 138,000 chickens, 6.8 million eggs, 83 metric tons of fish that are procured, prepared, and distributed each week. As you can imagine, the quantity of starch and vegetables required for this program on a weekly basis is equally impressive”.

He told the audience that the success of the programme in a short time was due to factors such as unequivocal political will, transparency and accountability.

Osinbajo also listed good value for all participants in the value chain, multi-sectoral coordination and strategic partnership with international donors such as Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation and Partnership For Child Development, Imperial College.

He earlier commended the Global Child Nutrition Forum and World Food Programme, for providing such an excellent opportunity for the global school feeding community to come together to share ideas, learn from and inspire one another.

Present at the occasion were Hatem Ben Salem, Minister of Education, Republic of Tunisia; Arlene Mitchell, Executive Director, Global Child Nutrition Fund; Don Burdy, Specialist at World Food Programme/World Bank.

Also in attendance were Daniel Balaban, Director of Centre of Excellence Against Hunger in Brazil and other regional representatives of WEF and GCNF, international donors as well as other participants. (NAN).