The Presidency says the Federal Government spends only N70 per meal daily to feed over 9.7 million pupils in 53,715 government primary schools in 31 States under the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.
The Cluster Head, National School Feeding Programme, Abimbola Adesanmi, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at the briefing on the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP).
Mrs Adesanmi said the programme was designed to help “provide one nutritious, balanced meal for 200 school days in a year, to pupils in Classes 1 to 3 in public primary schools to boost enrollment, increase the cognitive function in children and battle malnutrition.”
She said over the past four years, the programme has helped increase enrolment in primary schools by over 20 per cent, empowered cooks, small holder farmers and communities as a whole.
On how government is able to provide nutritious, balanced and hygienic meals to the pupils with a low budget of N70, Mrs Adesanmi said the strategy involves the adoption of the principle of economics of scale in buying the food items.
“We don’t go to the local markets to buy the food items,” she said. “We buy directly and in bulk from the farmers themselves. With that, we get the items at cheaper prices, because all the incidental costs, like transportation, fuel and all that, usually added to the final market price, is removed.”
For instance, she said if one buys an egg for N40 in the open market, one can buy the same egg for N28, if one is buying directly from the poultry farmers.
She says the women cooking the food for the programme usually source their food items directly from the local farmers in the area.
“That is the whole strategy behind the Schools feeding programme,” she said.
Apart from cooks who are selected by the state governments from applicants known and trusted within the vicinity of the schools, she said they are screened medically and trained on financial skills, hygiene and nutrition.
As a result of the Schools feeding programme, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, Nigeria is fast on its way to becoming the leader in Africa.
“Today, we (Federal Government) have 103,992 cooks on our payroll, feeding 9,714,342 pupils in 53,715 government primary schools around 31 States, while all the remaining States are at various stages of meeting the criteria we have laid, for feeding to commence.
“These children are able to eat a balanced diet, towards improving their learning outcomes.”
Besides, Mrs Uwais said the agricultural value chain has been increasing by the day, with sustainable income for the small holder farmers, especially those residing around public schools.
Mrs Uwais said at the end of March, the National Social Investment Programmes had made direct impacts on 12,069,153 beneficiaries, and over 30 million secondary beneficiaries, comprising the cooks, farmers, families, employees and members of the community.
For instance, said in each week of the programme, the NHGSFP requires 94 metric tons of fish, 7,260,862 eggs and 767 cattle slaughtered for the pupils being fed.
“Fruits, vegetables and grains are part of the carefully thought-out balanced diet for all of the pupils. Just think of what all of this translates to, for our rural economy,” she said.
The Special Adviser said a total of N470.8 billion was released between 2016 and 2018 for the four-broad programmes under the social investment programmes across the country.
The programmes are the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP).
From 2016 till date, she said the Federal Government budgeted about N500 billion for social investment every year. But, only N79.98 billion was released in 2016; N140 billion in 2017 and N250.4 billion in 2018.
Also, she said only $22 million has so far been utilised by the government for the social investment programmes from the $322 million recovered from the Abacha loot.