December 16, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Minority Leader in the House of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, has called on food scientists at Njala University to promote the cultivation of indigenous foodstuffs, which she said are more nutritious than imported ones.
She made the above call at the just concluded Food and Nutrition Security curriculum seminar, which was held at the Faculty Building on Njala University campus, last Thursday.
Dr. Bernadette Lahai said most diseases that affect people today are caused by too much consumption of processed imported foodstuffs, adding that “we have forgotten our indigenous foods which are sometimes highly nutritious.”
“When we were young, we used to fry and eat maggots from palm trees. We also used to bake and eat termites. These worms-like maggots and insects were highly nutritious. Even though we were eating them, we didn’t hear about people falling sick of some of the deadly diseases that are killing us today. We need to go back to our culture and avoid eating lots of processed imported food,” she said and added that potato leaves are also highly nutritious, especially for pregnant women.
“We have seen in recent years that people were no longer rearing local animals and that they rely on imported meat. We have now seen more imported chickens in our homes and restaurants than the locally raised ones. This is becoming a serious concern for most of us, especially the food scientists,” she said.
She said imported eggs is the choice product in most supermarkets and other local market centres, noting that most imported chickens were hatched by incubators, while locally raised ones were hatched by hen themselves.
Dr. Bernadette Lahai, who worked as a researcher at the Institute of Agricultural Research for 13 years prior to becoming a politician, said so many foodstuffs, including nuts and vegetables in the forest, are growing in the wide but of good nutritional value.
“Because our forefathers did not pass the knowledge to us about those foodstuffs, we know nothing much about them. Most of the vegetables in the forest are locally adapted to the climatic conditions. If you ask the young generation to name some of the fruits, nuts and vegetables that are in the forest, which are of good nutritional value, they will not because they are now used to imported foodstuffs,” she said.
“These are some of the problems affecting food and nutrition security in Sierra Leone. We have to go back and start gathering the fruits, nuts and vegetables in the forest that we can nurture and raise for our food,” she added.
Hon. Dr. Lahai said indigenous foodstuffs are adaptable and that they could be mixed with non-local species and withstand any climatic conditions.