The Chairperson Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), FCT chapter, Dr. Florence Ngozi Uchendu, has blamed unhealthy inflight meals on long international flights for the escalating diabetes, hypertension and other ailments in the society.

She said this on Saturday in Abuja at the World Gastronomy Day celebration 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).

Dr. Uchendu, delivery the keynote, 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 and clean water and sanitation among others.

“There are experiences of sugary, transfat, pepperish and other unhealthy foods being served during long international flights. All these contribute to obesity, hypertension, high blood pressure and other ailments with devastating effects on the people and families,” she said.

She therefore called for greater 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 is 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 the environment and health.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on his part, 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 to reduce mass poverty and mitigate the effect of climate change through healthy and sustainable local food choices, preparations and consumption.

He noted that Nigeria has culture as its tourism competitive advantage which is mostly defined by its foods and cuisines.

The Minister represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ifeoma Adaora Anyanwutaku, also called on 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.

Earlier, the Director General of NIHOTOUR and initiator of the event, Alhaji Nura Sani Kangiwa, 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 improvement in rural infrastructure.

He said that the institute will continue to offer courses for the development of Nigerian unique tourism products and competitive destination management to enhance the human capacity base of the country’s travel tourism and hospitality industry.

Also, the Cultural Counsellor of the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China, Mr. Li Xuda, lauded the observance of the maiden edition of the international event 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.

Speaking at the event, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, said 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.

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