Alhaji Lai Mohammed who made the call at the occasion of the World Gastronomy Day celebration in Abuja on Friday 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 Abuja, noted that Nigeria has culture as its tourism competitive advantage which is mostly defined by its foods and cuisines.
The Minister who was represented at the occasion by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ifeoma Adaora Anyanwutaku also called for 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.
Speaking at the occasion, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Senator 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.
Senator Rochas Okorocha who applauded efforts of NIHOTOUR in organizing the first observance of the United Nations World Gastronomy Day in Nigeria since its inception in 2017 globally, promised to initiate the establishment of a Food Technology training outfit as part of the Institute’s training mandate in hospitality.
Earlier in his welcome address, Alhaji Nura Sani Kangiwa, Director General of NIHOTOUR and initiator of the World Gastronomy Observance Day in Nigeria, 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, adding that NIHOTOUR 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.
In a key note paper on the theme of the 2021 World Gastronomy Day; Nations, Foods, Cultures and Partnerships for Sustainable Developments presented at the event, Dr Florence Ngozi Uchendu, Chairperson of the FCT Chapter of Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), 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 5 Sustainable Development Goals of; (SDG-2), Zero hunger…end hunger; (SDG-6), Clean water and sanitation; (SDG-7), Affordable and clean energy; (SDG-12), Responsible production and consumption and (SDG-13), Climate action.
Dr. Uchendu then called for greater and wider 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 we 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 our environment and health.
Other speakers at the occasion includes the Cultural Counsellor of the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China Mr. Li Xuda and the Director, Department of Arts and Culture of the FCTA Social Development Secretariat, Mrs. Awe who both lauded the observance of the maiden edition of the World Gastronomy Day 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.
Side attractions at the occasion were cultural dances and the display of varieties Nigerian foods and cuisines from the six geo-political zones of the country as well as of China which guests and visitors were lavishly entertained with.