Right to Protein campaign, an initiative of United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) targeted at advocating for access to protein-rich food sources in South-Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa Regions, has launched in Nigeria. The unveiling held on Wednesday, 22 February, 2023 in Lagos to announce the commencement of the initiative and formally announce Nigeria’s inaugural Protein Day commemoration slated for Monday, 27 February, 2023. The nationwide year-long campaign is aimed at healthy living by raising awareness about the importance of protein in the diet as well as advocating for access to protein-rich food sources for Nigerians.
Speaking at the launch event, Dr. Michael David, Country Representative, United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) in Nigeria & Sub-Saharan Africa, expressed his excitement over the launch of the 'Right to Protein' initiative in Nigeria. According to him, Right to Protein aims to foster behavioral change among individuals by spreading nutritional awareness about the need for adequate protein consumption for better nutrition and improved public health.
“Right To Protein is working to bring together individuals and institutions who can help drive protein awareness, debunk myths and misconceptions about protein food sources and establish its importance as a critical macro-nutrient for the nutritional wellbeing of people,” said David.
He added, “As a stakeholder, we remain passionate about healthy and productive living hence our desire to be part of this awareness drive about the importance of protein to sound health and productive living while also promoting access to quality protein sources for Nigerians.”
The Right to Protein initiative is a response to the growing concern over the lack of protein in the diets of many Nigerians, particularly those in rural areas and in underserved communities across the country. Protein remains an essential nutrient that is required in the human body to build and repair tissues, support immune function, and maintain overall health.
A survey carried out in 2020 on protein adequacy in Nigeria showed that about half of the country’s population or 45% are protein deficient as they lack access to sufficient protein and thus do not consume the daily recommended grammage. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommended minimum per capita daily protein intake is 53.8g, with global daily intake at 64g. However, in Nigeria, the daily protein intake is 45.4g, the Nigerian Protein Deficiency Report 2020 showed.
It is expected that the Right to Protein initiative will help to address this issue by providing education about the benefits of protein, promoting the inclusion of protein-rich foods in public feeding programmes, and advocating for policies that support increased access to protein sources for all. The initiative will also explore ways to bridge the knowledge gap through various engagement activities and resources as well as partnerships with the country’s top professionals and stakeholders such as nutritionists, chefs, food enthusiasts, influencers, and policymakers to help drive conversations about protein and its importance.Access to adequate nutrition, including protein, is a human right and all should remain committed to working towards a future where protein is accessible to all.