The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD) are currently feeding 254,313 pupils in 2,325 public primary schools in Plateau.

Assistant Director, Personnel, Research and Statistics at the ministry, Ali Garba, made the declaration in Jos on Monday.

It was at the handing-over of feeding utensils to beneficiaries of the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) in Plateau where he represented the minister, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq.

Garba said 3,421 food vendors were engaged in the state under the programme.

He explained that the programme is one of the key interventions of the Federal Government’s National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP)

He added that the programme aimed at boosting school enrolment, and alleviating poverty, hunger, child malnutrition and unemployment among other challenges.

“The NHGSFP is one of the key interventions of the Federal Government which seeks to boost school enrolment, nutrition and economic activities in thousands of communities across the nation.

“This programme is jointly executed by the federal and state governments.

“The Federal Government is responsible for release funds, guidelines, policies, and monitoring of implementation.

“The state government executes the day-to-day implementation including procurement of food items, selection of cooks and vendors who prepare, cook and serve the meals to pupils.

“The benefits of this programme and its impact on the lives and livelihoods of individuals, groups and communities are clear, evident and undeniable.

“While addressing cross-cutting issues of hunger, malnutrition and poverty, we have thus far recorded more than nine million pupils being fed by more than 100,000 cooks across the country,’’ Garba said.

The assistant director also explained that the ministry had identified strategic areas in the programme that would be reviewed to accommodate current realities.

He said the programme would be expanded to accommodate more beneficiaries, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved the inclusion of additional five million beneficiaries in the programme.

“An operational review is underway, fully supported by experts and technical partners to ensure that this programme succeeds in its objectives and capitalises on its gains and benefits.

“The benefits include women empowerment, support for girl child education, creation of employment, and improving inter-governmental collaboration.

“We have deployed an extensive, layered and technology-supported monitoring system that gives us real-time information on how the programme is being implemented and areas that need intervention and correction.

Receiving the items, Plateau’s Commissioner of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr Irimiya Werr, who represented Gov. Simon Lalong thanked the Federal Government for the gesture.

Werr said that the NHGSFP had met its objectives; increased school enrolment and created huge employment opportunities in Plateau.

“We appreciate President Buhari for initiating this laudable programme.

“Indeed this programme has started addressing the challenge of child malnutrition, poor school enrolment, as well as unemployment

“Today, even farmers are smiling because government through the programme is mopping up farm products from farmers,’’ he said.

On her part, Dr Sumaye Hamza, N-SIP Focal Person in Plateau, said the programme would go a long way in ensuring that pupils got quality and well-nourished meals while in school.

She promised that the utensils would be judiciously distributed to food vendors engaged in the programme.

Some of the utensils presented were branded plates, spoons, and knives, among others.

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