Social Media. I never did check Whatsapp status updates much, In fact, I never used whatsapp much.
However, I have recently found myself checking status updates more frequently.

I think my unprecedented curiosity with whatsapp status has a bit to do with learning. I like to learn a little broadly. I don’t get to read very broadly on other topics while in law school. Learning, though, goes beyond reading other books or listening to Ted talks. Learning is in having a little curiosity in knowing what my friends are neck deep into or exploring.

One person who has sparked a curiosity in me recently is Tope. Here’s the background for today’s gist:
I’m reading my books one Saturday afternoon, focusing on prospectus, private placement and what not, in company securities, when the word ‘biofortification‘ comes to my mind.
THAT IS NOT corporate law practice. Hello, lawyers.

Instead of asking Tope who I remember to have put up on whatsapp, pictures of herself holding a placard on biofortification in recent times, I pick up my phone to run a Google search for a basic idea on it. It’s an ah-ah moment for me. I do like the concept. I am interested in knowing more.

Here’s where this eureka comes to me.

Today, Tope shares with me and you what exactly she does, and why she has biofortification ringing in my head!

Hi Tope. Give this tribe six cool facts about you

1. I love to laugh, I just became aware of this, but I enjoy it and I try to make sure I have good laugh every now and then. 

2. I would consider myself a creative person. I am a DIYer (Do it yourself) and my first approach to things concerning home craft is that perhaps, I can create this myself, even food. 

3. I love trying out new things. I would say I’m adventurous. 

4. I enjoy travelling, and by exploring different means. Except I haven’t had the experience of travelling by sea yet. Hopefully soon. 

5. I love love my family. They are awesome. And we are quite the close bunch. By family, I’m also referring to my friends. These ones are my unbiological sisters and brothers. You rock!

6. I love the Lord. And I honestly want to be a better believer in word and in deeds.

I have rough days every now and then. But I’m assured of the one whom I’ve believed, he’s able to keep me from falling. 

Tell us where you work and what you do.

I’m serving at the moment, in HarvestPlus Nigeria country office in Ibadan. 

(A/N: Serving, being the mandatory National Youth service Corps for Nigerian youths to serve the nation in different states, after completion of their tertiary education)

How does your typical day go?

Typical day hmmmm, I wake up in the morning between 4-5am – although this is laced with a lot of alarm snooze, Lol.

I speak with God, prepare a meal, bath, get dressed and leave the house around 7.10am (I resume at work by 7.30am, keep in mind that I have no Lagos traffic, lol).

I often hitch a ride with my neighbor. I get to work before 7.30am and the day starts. I usually have my to-do list written out – probably the day before, or early that morning and sometimes, when I do get to work. Whichever way, I have my tasks for the day. 

If I have breakfast packed, I eat first. The tasks for the day usually varies.

From recipe development, to secretariat duties for the scientific conference of the Nutritious Food Fair 2019, to working on a project or document that gives nutrition information to a target audience, to preparing for an exhibition (which could be in or out of work), at some other times, meetings to review what has been done so far and finally to personal commitments as well.

My typical day also includes watching vlogs (I am a fan of certain Youtube channels and vloggers, the Ohemgees, Ayope Davies, etc, I watch at least a vlog per day even on very busy days, I use them to relieve stress, lol and also gain new knowledge).

I have my lunch which is served at work, I communicate with friends (in and out of work) and colleagues at work in general.

My day involves a lot of laughter actually (I can largely attribute this to Youtube, I just go there to have a good laugh, which I need to stifle of course, because I’m supposed to be working. Please don’t tell my boss). I read too. 

After work hours, depending on whether or not I have other engagements, I go home, or anywhere else I need to be at. When I eventually get home, I rest, eat and/or cook, and prepare for the next day. I’m usually knackered when I get home, so I just chill, don’t judge me…I’m working on it. Lol. 

Did I forget to mention? My typical day also involves access to a lot of wi-fi. This is a blessing I’m really grateful for. 

How does biofortification help?

Let’s start from the genesis. What is fortification? Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential nutrient especially micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) in a food in order to improve the nutrient quality of that food, and it’ll be of public health benefit. 

Biofortification is the process of increasing the density of vitamins and minerals in a crop, through conventional plant breeding, agronomic practices or modern technology, so that when consumed regularly, they will generate measurable improvement in the vitamin and mineral nutritional status of consumers.

This means that the nutrient quality or the amount of a certain nutrient in a crop is increased. Please note that biofortified foods are very safe and are non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms). These varieties have also been bred to have good agronomic qualities that every farmer needs – drought tolerant, disease resistant, and high yield. 

Also note, that this is different from the conventional food fortification. How? Food fortification increases the nutrient levels or content of the food during processing of the food crops, for example during the processing of sugar cane to sugar, it can be fortified with vitamin A (this will explain the image of an eye that is printed on some sugar brands available in the market. Rings a bell?). In addition, our salt and maggi are fortified with iodine.

Whereas, Biofortification increases nutrient levels of crops during plant growth and so the crops are harvested biofortified.

So how does all of this help? With biofortification, the consumers have more amount of nutrients taken in than they normally would have as a result of these foods. It’s only a consequence that their nutritional status and in turn, health status is improved. 

Perhaps I should make it sound better. (A/N: 😂 )

Biofortification helps to address the problem of malnutrition in the world. It specifically addresses a form of malnutrition called micronutrient malnutrition or deficiency, aka Hidden Hunger. About 2 billion people in the world or one in every three persons suffer from hidden hunger (Food and Agriculture Organization).

Hidden, because it is not easily noticed. The nutrients lacking are those needed by the body in small amounts, hence the lack of it is not immediately observed. These nutrients are lacking in our diets. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals.

Despite that they’re needed in small amounts, they are essential for good health. And their absence has great effects. Vitamin A and zinc deficiencies affect child health and survival, weakens the immune system, and can affect the eyesight.

Iron and iodine deficiency affects pregnant women, fetal development and can prevent children from reaching their potential physical and intellectual wise.

Zinc leads to impaired growth and can lead to stunting in children. The effects of hidden hunger can be generally devastating, lead to poor health and productivity and even death.

HarvestPlus is a stakeholder organization that seeks to solve this problem using biofortification. This is done by developing micronutrient-rich varieties of the staple food crops that millions of people consume.

In truth, consuming a diverse diet helps to address hidden hunger but unfortunately, most people do not consume this especially in developing countries.

Since staple foods such as rice, wheat, cassava, yam, maize, or potato cannot provide adequate micronutrients, biofortification runs in.

Biofortification has been proven to work and produce great results, backed up with science. Some are efficacy trials, evidence studies randomized control trials that have been done to prove that it actually works and individuals can get more nutrients from consuming biofortified food products.

HarvestPlus organization works in different countries spread across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Carribbeans providing foods that are first, safe, micronutrient rich, and are specific to the malnutrition needs. For example, Rwanda has Iron beans -this is beans that has been biofortified with iron.

The micronutrient-rich varieties of staple food crops in Nigeria are Vitamin A cassava, Vitamin A maize and Orange-flesh sweet potato (OFSP). If you take a look at the food crops for Nigeria, you would see that almost all ethnic groups are covered, a group is likely to have one of these three crops as a staple food crop.  

It is interesting to note that apart from the usual products gotten from the staple food crops like vitamin A garri, fufu, abacha, pap, other new products from these biofortified staple food crops have also been developed and some commercialized. Examples: custard made from cassava, akara chips (we call it combobite), cassava flour for baking, etc. And these are available for sale, including raw crops and seeds, stems and vines for planting. They’re also distributed and sold to farmers and other stakeholders.

What’s more? These are sold at about the same price as the conventional products already available in the market to enable easy acceptance of biofortified food crops. 

Other than biofortification, what else can we, after reading this blogpost, have ringing in our heads?

Eat well. Take your nutrition to be important, and take deliberate actions about this. Eat a rainbow; lots of fruits and veggies.

Let your greens be present (vegetables and some fruits, green apples, cucumber), your reds (red apples, grapes, tomato and pepper in your stew, watermelon), your orange and yellow (carrots, oranges, tangerines), purple and white (cabbage, onions), Lol, I know you get the gist. Eating a nourishing meal does not have to be expensive. You just have to make up your mind to do it. Eat a fruit per day, you can increase it with time. Take lots of water. And move more. Physical activity is very key. 

Also, don’t believe everything you see on the internet about food and nutrition. Consult an expert, there’s one around you.

Don’t forget about biofortification, consume biofortified products and encourage others to do so too.

Lastly, contribute to ensure that people lead healthy lives. We can achieve this together and end malnutrition in all forms. Get involved!

Do you see yourself continuing in your field of work all your life?

Yes ma’am. I do…smiles.

What should we know about crossing over to your field, so we too can, in all smiles, hold placards and disturb people’s company securities reading while saving the world from hidden hunger?

Get a degree in Nutrition – A BSc or MSc. Also be keen about people’s health and nutrition.

By the way, who doesn’t want to be like Tope? Catching cruise at work, yet helping to save a whole generation from hidden hunger. Guyssssssss.

I hope the nutrition-language wasn’t too concentrated and you were able to follow through. I was. Let’s give Tope some love in the comment section.

I hope to publish another post before this year runs out. This one will be a life update cum end-of-the-year wrap.

My Nigerian bar exams are literally here. Pray for your favourite girl. I love you, and I love biofortification more. 💖

8 Comments

  1. Favour December 7, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Quite an expository read. I loved it. Well-done Tope and Debby

    Reply
    1. admin - Site Author December 8, 2019 at 9:29 pm

      Thanks Favour. 😉

      Reply
  2. Adetoye December 8, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    Very lovely read. I can only imagine how hungry I am, and I never knew it.

    Reply
    1. admin - Site Author December 8, 2019 at 9:28 pm

      Lol. The the thought of it!

      Reply
  3. Dor😍 December 10, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Hey Debby, you love us but you love biofortification more? 😮

    Tope, thank you for this exposition…the part that caught my attention the most is the fact that you leave home around 7.10am and get to work before 7.30am

    Enjoyed reading through👍

    Reply
    1. admin - Site Author December 10, 2019 at 4:53 pm

      😂😂😁 I can understand why the time distance caught your attention! My love for biofortification is a mystery of a hidden but deeper love for mankind.

      Reply
  4. Dr K.M. Ogunjobi December 14, 2019 at 10:44 am

    This is a lovely and insightful piece. Hope rising! We can have a better world. Cheers

    Reply
  5. Yaladesida December 14, 2019 at 10:53 am

    This is quite informative Tee girl. I guess we all have to go biofortification from now. Thanks and do enjoy the Christmas holidays

    Reply

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