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Dufil Prima tackles childhood nutrition, awards grants to students

The Scholarship winners display their cheque. At their back are, Professor Babatunde Oguntona of Department of Nutrition, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State(left); Group Head, Public relations and Events Manager, Dufil Prima foods Plc, Temitope Ashiwaju and Brand Manager, Dufil Prima foods Plc, Onome Asagbra during the Dufil Postgraduate Nutrition Scholarship award in lagos

A recent National Nutrition and Health Survey has revealed that one third of children under the age of five in Nigeria is stunted and a child in the remote northwest region of Nigeria, where stunting rates are around 55 percent, is four times more likely to experience malnutrition from birth than a child in the south. 

Ironically, child obesity is increasing and 33 percent of adults are obese or overweight. Child nutrition in Nigeria has improved in recent years, but around 11 million Nigerian children still suffer nutritional problems.

Stunting is what happens to a child’s brain and body when they don’t get the right kind of food or nutrients in their first 1,000 days of life and is irreversible, leading to growth problems, diseases and even death.

In light of these issues and to further strengthen the nations’ manpower in the food sector by training high-level nutrition scholars, Dufil Prima Foods Plc., has awarded 12 Postgraduate students drawn from various institutions in the country with educational grants.

The recipients were drawn from a pool of numerous entries across the country, from three universities and are indigenes of 12 states, which cut across the six geo-political zones of the country.

According to the company, this is part of their contribution towards strengthening Nutrition education and research in Nigeria, thus consolidating government’s effort towards an improved education sector. The lucky students, currently undergoing M.Sc programmes in Nutrition and related studies for the2017/2018 academic session, received a cheque of N450, 000 each, to cover tuition, research, project, books and stipend for the duration of their Master’s degree.

During the cheque presentation to the awardees at the company’s corporate headquarters in Lagos, Group Public Relations and Events Manager, Dufil Prima Foods Plc, Tope Ashiwaju revealed that the initiative started in 2009 and, ever since, they have not looked back. He also applauded the coordinator of the scholarship scheme since inception, Professor Babatunde Oguntona, for his transparency in handling the operations of the scholarship.

Oguntona on his part tasked the government to encourage companies and firms carrying out such beneficial initiatives to Nigerians and support them. “A lot of programmes have been carried out by researchers that would be very effective but government is yet to implement these programmes,” he said.

Ashiwaju noted: “Aside from the company’s desire to build manpower and impact positively in the health sector, owing to the fact that a lot of sicknesses and diseases are caused by malnutrition and intake of the wrong diet, we need the services of well-trained nutritionists and dieticians, which we hope this initiative will go a long way in achieving. Our main objective is to build a strong crop of nutritionists in the country by encouraging more people to go into this field at masters’ level.

“It is our hope that in the nearest future, Nigeria can boost the quality of manpower in the area of nutrition and dietetics, as very few universities offer nutrition at the first degree and master’s level at the moment, a situation which has led to shortage of manpower in this sector. We want to re-write the nutrition template of our country, and we are committed to raising seasoned professionals in this field, who in the nearest future can compete with other developed nations in this regard.”

Prof. Oguntona, who is from the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, commended the company for the positive response to the scholarship, and sustaining the scheme over the years. Explaining the aim of the scholarship, he said the scheme is meant to promote the study of nutrition in Nigeria. The awardees were encouraged to be committed to their studies and were told that there might be employment opportunities after their programmes.

Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Yahuza Asiya Salman thanked the company, promising to make good use of the opportunity given them.

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