By Matthew Okoata
The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced plans to include an additional five million pupils in the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP).
The government also said plans are underway to update the existing data of the programme to facilitate the inclusion exercise, in line with the directive of President Muhamadu Buhari.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, made the disclosure yesterday in Asaba, during the formal handing over of feeding utensils for the beneficiaries of the programme in Delta State
Farouq, who was represented by a staff of her ministry, Mr. Emmanuel Deekor explained that HGSFP was introduced by the federal government to tackle hunger and alleviate poverty in the country.
“We have commenced a nationwide enumeration exercise with the aim of verifying existing data, upgrading the quality of data, and updating our records to accommodate the scaling up of the programme with an additional five million beneficiaries as directed by Mr. President,” Farouq stated.
The minister disclosed that over nine million pupils were being fed across the federation and that the exercise had created job opportunities for over 100,000 cooks, as well as other productive activities within the school ecosystem.
She further stated that the home-grown school feeding was a collaboration between the federal government and the states where the federal government provides the funds.
According to the minister, participating stateswere saddled with day-to-day implementation, such as procurement of food items, selection of the cooks and other logistics.
On his part, the Functioning Permanent Secretary in the Directorate of Humanitarian and Community Support Services, Dr Chucks Nwani who represented the Delta State Government, disclosed the state had played its collaborative role judiciously and commendation her.
He stated that the State government has put in place structures that ensured that programmes and policies under the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP) of the federal government in the state were effectively implemented for the overall good of Deltans.
Nwani said the state had also succeeded in its efforts to better the lots of Deltans by making sure that the poor and vulnerable persons in the state were properly identified.
He remarked that one of such necessary social intervention mechanism was the establishment of the Directorate of Humanitarian and Community Supports Services in thestate,with the mandate to facilitate all social investment programmes.
“The Directorate was mandated to coordinate all social investment programmes of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the State.
“It is also to generate social register and a workable development platform for the most vulnerable population of the state with a view to grow partnership and ultimately lift them out of poverty,” Nwani explained.
Nwani stated that the Directorate also hadprogrammes for the small holder farmers where the government provides assistance to the farmers for better harvest as well as partner youths with skills so that they can be more meaningfully engaged.
He revealed that the feeding programme so far had catered for the feeding of 291,000 pupils in the exercise, in 1,142 public primary schools across the 25 local government areas of the state with over 2,500 cooks feeding the children as food vendors.
Dr. Nwani called for the upward review of the cost of feeding the pupils due to the current inflationary trends in the country which had made the current cost of feeding not sustainable.