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The Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Chief Uche Nnaji Geoffrey, has said that for the country to maintain sustainable and national development, food security, safety and economic growth becomes a priority.

According to the Minister, reducing the risk of food insecurity in the country will require technological solutions towards collaborative efforts across agriculture, food science and technology, nutrition and health programmes. 

The Minister said this at the commissioning ceremony of the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology (NiCFoST) Data Base Management Centre today in Abuja. He further said that as the focal Government Council responsible for regulating the Food Science and Technology profession, the Council will usher the country into a new era of professional practice within the food industry and the national food supply system.

Chief Nnaji also said that the regulatory framework of the Council is crucial to reducing unprofessional practices and management along the food value chain and its economic benefits, by ensuring sustainable national food security.

He stated that this is the first time in Sub-Saharan Africa that the Food Science and Technology Profession have a regulatory Council. He emphasized that the Centre represents a collaborative effort between the Ministry and NiCFOST, reflecting shared commitment to advancing Food Science and Technology regulation in Nigeria.

To this end, Nnaji said that Nigerian food is steadily becoming popular overseas and increasingly available at local shops, adding that optimization of the benefits of these export market trends will help in economic diversification of the country. The Minister recalled that he recently signed some certificate of registration for newly registered professionals and therefore called on all Food Science and Technology professionals to take advantage provided by the establishment Act to register with the Council.

Earlier, the Registrar of the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology (NiCFoST) Mrs. Veronica Nkechi Eze said that NiCFoST is a regulatory Council that was established barely 3years ago, amidst the constraints of Covid-19 Pandemic, and its mandate is to regulate the practice and profession on food Science and Technology in Nigeria. She pointed out that one of the reasons for establishing the Council is to promote professional practices for food safety, prevent post-harvest losses, improve the competitiveness of the Nigerian food products, promote export of the country’s food as well as contribute to the overall food security of the nation.

All you need to know about NiCFoST

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The Nigeria Council of Food Science and Technology (NiCFoST) is a Regulatory Council, established by the NiCFoST (Establishment) Act, 2019 to regulate the practice and profession of Food Science and Technology in Nigeria. The Council is supervised by the Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology (FMIST).

The charter pursuit by the community of Food Professionals in Nigeria led by NIFST was achieved through a government sponsored legislation based on strong advocacy. The process of legislation lasted from 2004 to 2019 when the Nigeria Council of Food Science and Technology Bill was signed into law. The law requires that the training and practice of the Food Professionals will be regulated by NiCFoST. This further requires that the individual Food Professional will be registered and licensed before practising in areas where food scientific skills are required. The wider implication of this, is that with time, Government will only recognize licensed Food Practitioners across the food value chain. The regulation of Food Professionals is expected to impact on food security generally but especially on prevention of post-harvest losses, food safety, upscale of innovation and entrepreneurship in food business. It also implies that Food Professionals will be properly remunerated considering the increased level of responsibility imposed on them. NiCFoST therefore, will require Food Professionals to be registered as Certified Food Scientist of Nigeria (CFSN), acquire annual practice licence if they want to practice in Nigeria and engage in various levels of Mandatory Continuous Professional Development depending on background, age in NIFST and experience.   

With the achievement of charter pursuit, NiCFoST, a Regulatory Council, was established. The Council started its activities in line with the provisions of the Act on 8th of May, 2020 with the appointment of Registrar/Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Veronica Nkechi Ezeh. It will be recalled that NIFST received the signed Act and proceeded on courtesy visit to the Honorable Minister of the then Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST), now Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, FMIST.

The emergence of the Registrar/CEO was in accordance with the recommendation of a Six-man Ministerial Committee constituted by the Hon. Minister, during the courtesy visit. The constituted Committee was made up of three (3) NIFSTers in attendance at the courtesy visit and three (3) staff of the Ministry. Members of the Committee were saddled with the responsibility of implementing the Establishment Act. One of the recommendations of the Committee was to nominate three NIFSTers for the position of the Registrar/CEO of the new Council. The nominated three (3) names of NIFSTers in the report were Mr Toye Oluwole, the then President of NIFST, Dr Dahiru Adamu, Past President of NIFST and Mrs Veronica Nkechi Ezeh, the then Chairman of FCT Chapter of NIFST. The Committee’s recommendation was based on NiCFoST (Establishment) Act, 2019 provision in Part 11, Section 6 (1a) which states that ‘the Council shall appoint a fit and proper person, who is a Food Professional, a Fellow of the Council and a Fellow of NIFST, to be the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Council’.

As a new Government Council, the administrative apparatus, typically, needed to be put in place first. This included the administrative head, which is the Chief Executive Officer who would carry out the day-to-day activities. Also, according to the Civil Service Rules and Regulations, the supervising Minister of any Government Institution, acts on behalf of the Governing Council. In the case of NiCFoST, the Honourable Minister of Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology would act on behalf of the Governing Council, pending its constitution and inauguration. It is to be noted that inauguration of Governing Council of a Government Institution such as NiCFoST is the responsibility of the Honourable Minister and the Presidency and not that of the Registrar/CEO. However, the Registrar/CEO of NiCFoST, mindful of the importance of inauguration, has been spearheading the consultation with Hon. Minister on the request by NIFST to initiate steps for inauguration of the Governing Council and had participated actively in all the courtesy visits made by NIFST to canvass for expedited inauguration. 

Progress Made by the Registrar/CEO on Assumption of Office in May  

On assumption of office by the Registrar/CEO on 8th of May, 2020, the Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, magnanimously deployed staff to NiCFoST on secondment to help in setting-up of the administrative structure. The Registrar/CEO met with the staff on 13th of May, 2020. The meeting was convened to congratulate and encourage the pioneer staff and reiterate the confidence reposed on them by the Ministry to kick-start the setting-up of the administrative structure.  It was also to bring-up an action plan necessary for kick-starting the setting-up of the structure. The meeting was faced with the dilemma of funds to purchase/hire working materials (computers, printers, papers, pens, printing of office files etc), pursue and secure necessary approvals from other Government Institutions.  It is to be noted that in Government Accounting Rules and Regulations, an officer of any Government Institution can only spend money appropriated to the Institution.  Being a new Government Council with no take-off grant, the Registrar/CEO advanced personal funds to the Council (Borrowed at zero interest from family and friends). This was to avoid delays because, processes are time-bound, and delays can be dangerous in Government matters. The necessary approvals urgently needed were basically for inclusion in the yearly Appropriation Act. Such approvals were Administrative Code, Self-Accounting Status, inclusion on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) platform etc.  Finally, NiCFoST got its first budget in FY2021 and subsequently in FY2022 and FY2023.

So, from inception, NiCFoST struggled so hard amidst COVID-19 Pandemic to obtain all necessary approvals even ahead of some Agencies, courtesy of the private funds from the Registrar’s family and friends. Also, through God’s intervention and that of the supervising Ministry (FMIST), the personnel cost, overhead and capital costs were included in the first budget ever in 2021. Subsequently, NiCFoST continued to be included in the Appropriation Act of the Federal Government.

The capital funds for the FY2021 and FY2022 (FY2023 is on-going) were carefully managed by NiCFoST to purchase office working materials, motor vehicles, securing of its own office building, a Data Management Centre, in the heart of Abuja awaiting completion of renovation among other solid achievements within the short period of existence. Such achievements are hereby highlighted and include;

  • Securing other necessary approvals from other Government Institutions for the establishment of the Council’s institutional framework. The Government Institutions include; Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget Office of the Federation, Federal Character Commission, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation etc. There was no take-off grant which was a setback in setting-up the administrative structure. 
  • Procuring of some relevant working materials and office furniture for the deployed and newly recruited sixty-five staff in line with all extant regulations.
  • Development of a website/portal ( which is being updated accordingly and in use for the registration of Food Scientists and Technologists. It is a credible source of information on the activities of NiCFoST as well.
  • Development and printing of certificates of registration and annual practice licences for Food Science and Technology professionals.   
  • Engagement of consultants to develop draft operational documents. The documents are for driving the effective implementation of NiCFoST activities in line with the NiCFoST (Establishment) Act, 2019. The activities include but not limited to; approving the institutions of learning in conjunction with appropriate bodies, registration of Food Science and Technology professionals, approving the food business premises where the Food Professionals work and enforcing the Code of Conduct for Food Professionals.

Different experts, Civil Servants and stakeholders reviewed the draft operational documents, and their inputs were incorporated in the draft documents. The major stakeholders included NIFST, NAFDAC, SON, National Agricultural Quarantine Service, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), NUC, NBTE and the Tertiary Institutions etc.

  • Organizing sensitization meetings for all stakeholders on the Technical Operational Documents.
  • Acquiring of a Data Management Centre to warehouse and manage all NiCFoST data.
  • NiCFoST identified two major baseline technical projects that are critical for effective take-off. The first project is pilot survey of food business operations aimed at assessing the skills and renumeration of Food Professionals that work in food production/preparation facilities amongst others. The second project is grassroot food safety practices with the aim of reducing foodborne illnesses through reduction of micro-organisms and other contaminants in exposed foods especially the ready-to-eat foods (garri, fried fish, snacks etc.) which may be consumed directly without heat treatment or cooking. The National Bureau of Statistics has been contracted to conduct the pilot survey in some Local Government Area Councils of Lagos and Kano States. The outcome of the survey will provide the necessary baseline data for further action.
  • We are currently engaging all the Local Government Area Councils with a view to sanitizing the downstream food value chains. NiCFoST intends to collaborate with the LGAs so that only licensed food professionals will oversee food scientific matters and they will be appropriately regulated.

NiCFoST and NIFST Partnership

There is no major decision involving Food Professionals taken by NiCFoST without inputs from NIFST especially after ‘NiCFoST Day’ session at the concluded 2022 46th NIFST Conference and Annual General Meeting. NiCFoST noted the complaints of not carrying NIFST along. This was corrected and NiCFoST collaborated in the best possible ways thereafter within the ambit of NiCFoST law and other Government extant Rules and Regulations.

The Conference was held in Abuja between 17-21st October, 2022 and NiCFoST Day of two-hours’ event was held on the 18th of October to update Food Professionals on the enormous progress made within the two years of existence.

Some of the major activities involving NIFST are as follows:

  1. Review of draft Technical Operational Documents developed by NiCFoST to guide its operations. NIFST was the only major stakeholder invited to review all the six Technical Operational Documents. Other stakeholders were invited to review only the documents related to their functions.

Below are the list of the six Technical Operational Documents and three application forms.

i.      Manual for Registration of Food Scientists and Technologists in Nigeria.

ii.      Manual for Registration of Food Premises in Nigeria.

iii.     Guidelines for the Establishment of Food Science and Technology Programmes in Nigerian Universities, Polytechnics                    and Monotechnics.

iv.     Manual for Continuing Education of Food Scientists and Technologists in Nigeria.

v.      Manual for Inspection of Food Business Premises in Nigeria. 

vi.     Code for Ethics Manual for Professional Food Scientists and Technologists and application forms for;

a. Registration and Licence to Practice as a Certified Food Scientist.

b. Renewal of Licence.

c. Registration of Food Business Premise.

2. NIFST reviewed the six draft Technical Operational Documents and forwarded the review report to NiCFoST in November 2022.

3. NIFST Team, nominated by NIFST President, participated in an online review of critical documents including the website/portal contents,  designed certificates of registration and annual practice licence in December 2022.

4. NiCFoST was a Co-sponsor and supporter of NIFST 46th Conference and Annual General Meeting held in Abuja between 17-21st October, 2022.

5. NIFST granted NiCFoST the opportunity to mount a session at the NIFST 46th Abuja Conference and Annual General Meeting to create awareness among NIFST members of its upcoming programmes in October 2022.

6. NIFST was invited to an online meeting on special briefing of major   stakeholders on the activities of NiCFoST and to discuss the Technical Operational Documents on the 13th of December 2022.

7. NIFST President and his nominee (a member of the NIFST Governing Council) participated in an interface meeting for the harmonization of NIFST positions on the Technical Operational Documents reviews and on some major areas that require synergy. It held in Abuja on the 14th of February 2023.

8. NIFST President and his nominated member of the NIFST Governing Council participated in the stakeholder's sensitization workshops on the Technical Operational Documents held in Abuja on the 15th of February 2023.

9. NiCFoST has already Co-sponsored and supported the forthcoming 2023   NIFST 47th Conference and Annual General Meeting holding at Umudike, Abia State in October 2023.

10. NIFST President and his representative participated in the stakeholder's sensitization workshops on pilot survey of food business facilities held at Lagos and Kano in March 2023.

11. NIFST President who represented NIFST participated in a Stakeholders Committee of Food Professionals meeting convened by NiCFoST to bring up an advisory document on the declared state of emergency on food security by the Federal Government on the 26th of July 2023.  Some NIFST elders also participated.

Special NiCFoST/NIFST Interface Meeting: On receipt of review report from NIFST on the Technical Operational Documents, NiCFoST and NIFST agreed to meet to harmonize NIFST positions on the documents review. The meeting held on 14th of February 2023 at Abuja. NIFST President and his nominee member of the NIFST Governing Council participated at the meeting which cumulated into the following decisions on:

a. Registration of Food Professionals as Certified Food Scientist of Nigeria (CFSN): NiCFoST (Establishment) Act, 2019 in Part 1, Section 5(4) provides that ‘all members excluding licentiates, corporate and honorary members of NIFST whose names appear in the most recent edition of its directory of members and any person who has been a member of NIFST as at that date of commencement of this Act or who but for this Act would have been qualified to be admitted as a member of NIFST within six months from the commencement of this Act is deemed enrolled into the register of Food Professionals of the food profession in their various membership categories and years of membership in NIFST on fulfilling other requirement prescribed by the Council’

The meeting noted that there was no provision in the Establishment Act for free Annual Practice Licence. However, in a bid to compensate the efforts of NIFST members who made sacrifices for the NIFST charter pursuit, the meeting agreed that the enrolment of initial NIFST members as provided in the Act will be at no cost to them i.e. members whose names were in NIFST’s register within six months from the date of commencement of the Establishment Act. In addition, NiCFoST shall grant the same initial NIFST members Annual Practice Licence on request at no cost. 

It was also agreed that Food Professionals shall be responsible for the payment of renewal of their Annual Practice Licence going forward after the six (6) months of commencing the Act. Based on the understanding of the six (6) months from commencement of the Act, the meeting agreed that the effective date of enrolment/registration of Food Professionals and issuance of Annual Practice licence by NiCFoST shall be whenever NIFST submits a list of Food Professionals to NiCFoST and readiness by NiCFoST to start registration/enrolment. 

b. On the Perceived Duplication of Functions of NiCFoST in NAFDAC and SON Functions with respect to Food Facilities’ Inspection, it was seen as overlap of functions. However, the overlap of functions is inevitable considering different roles of the Government Institutions in   inspection of food facilities. 

All the three Institutions (NAFDAC, SON and NiCFoST) have mandates to inspect food facilities. While NAFDAC and SON regulate pre-packaged foods, NiCFoST regulates the Food Professionals who are human beings. Each Institution has specific functions. It is to be noted that food business goes beyond the manufacture of pre-packaged foods. NiCFoST mandate goes beyond food business facilities that manufacture pre-packaged foods but include competent management of facilities and personnels involved in preparing or producing bulk food or its products or food raw materials that are not regulated especially those with high distribution impact.

c. Acknowledgement of the Provisions of the Act on Penalty Fee for Late Renewal of Annual Practice Licence in Part III, Section 12 (2). The section states that ‘any registered person who practises without paying the practising fee commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine twice the prescribed fee for each of the years he is in default of payment of the practising fees’. It was agreed that NiCFoST cannot give discount on penalty fees which would negate Government’s Accounting/Financial Rules and Regulations.

d. Default or Delay in Licence Renewal. Agreement in principle shall be allowed for three (3) months’ grace period for late renewal of Annual Practice Licence as against the provision of zero allowance in the NiCFoST (Establishment) Act, 2019. Meanwhile, it was noted that Annual Practice licence holders may wish to suspend their licences if they are indisposed to practice or may not be able to pay for renewal. They should, however, inform NiCFoST in writing.

e. The Establishment of a Common Faculty or College of Food Science and Technology and its Variant Disciplines in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions. It was agreed that NIFST and NiCFoST should bring-up a position paper for a meeting with NUC and NBTE to consider the implementation.

f. Seeming Technical/Editorial Errors in Operational Documents Being Quotes from the Act. The meeting noted that some of the errors observed in the Technical Operational Documents (editorial and technical) concerning quoted sections of the NiCFoST (Establishment) Act, 2019 can only be corrected during amendment of the Act by the legislature.

g. Delay in Inauguration of Council. It was observed that NiCFoST’s Governing Council ought to be inaugurated.   

h. Technical Operational Documents as Work-in-Progress. The meeting resolved that NiCFoST operational documents were ‘work in progress’ that could be put to use going forward.

i. Administrative Charges. The meeting agreed on administrative charges for Registration as CFSN and Annual Practice Licence/Renewal of Annual Practice Licence which will be communicated later to stakeholders. It will be noted that these administrative charges were considered in February 2023 before the declaration of non-funding of Professional Bodies and Councils from 2024-2026 by the Federal Government in June 2023 (See administrative charges in Appendix I below).

j. Consideration of Time Span to Attain Professionalization in Food Science and Technology. It was observed that it may take undergraduates seven (7) to eight (8) years from point of gaining admission to study Food Science and Technology and its variant disciplines to getting registered as Certified Food Scientist of Nigeria (CFSN). To help reduce the time loss after graduation it was noted that NIFST may consider proper induction ceremony of graduates into NIFST membership immediately upon graduation in their various institutions. The modality will be such that graduates will be issued with NIFST Membership Certificate at the induction ceremony while NiCFoST administers Food Scientist and Technologist Oath.   

Such graduates may begin the process of registration with NiCFoST.

Appendix I

Recommended Fees by NiCFoST for Registration of Food Professionals and Food Business Premises

 Registration CategoriesRegistration (₦)Multiple Location. Registration per Location (₦)Renewal (₦)
Certified Food Scientist of Nigeria (CFSN)5,000NANA
Certified Food Scientist of Nigeria (CFSN) Annual Practice Licence2,500NANA
Food Business Operator   
a. Large Company20,0004,0003,000
b. Medium Company5,0003,0002,000
c. Small Company, Cottage/Garage/Micro/Kitchen Company with high distribution impact2,0001,5001,000

Enrolment of Food Professionals It will be recalled that during the NiCFoST/NIFST interface meeting that it was agreed that enrolment of Food Professionals shall commence when NIFST sends the list of initial Food Professionals as provided in the NiCFoST (Establishment) Act, 2019 as well as whenever NiCFoST is ready with its   structure to commence the enrolment. Based on the agreement, NiCFoST wrote to NIFST in December 2022 to request for the list of Food Professionals for enrolment as provided in the Act. NIFST forwarded the list to NiCFoST in May 2023 for its “further necessary action” (see attached letters from NiCFoST to NIFST and from NIFST to NiCFoST.

The Long-Awaited Registration of Food Professionals: In line with the agreement between NIFST and NiCFoST on the registration of Food Professionals and the developed Technical Operational Documents, NiCFoST started the registration in July 2023. As a mark of recognition of the major stakeholder of NiCFoST in the registration of Food Professionals, NiCFoST reached out to NIFST President on phone to be the first person to register as Certified Food Scientist of Nigeria and then to the Fellows through the Whatsapp Platform as a mark of respect to register before other Food Professionals.   

It is worthy to note that NiCFoST has so far registered so many Food Professionals on the list submitted by NIFST. However, NiCFoST as a Regulatory Authority that ensures due diligence in the registration process, has only registered the Food Professionals in the list submitted including those that met the registration requirements as in the Technical Operational Documents. The critical requirements include, being on the list submitted by NIFST, confirmation of applicant’s NIFST membership number, sighting of certificate(s) of applicant from Tertiary Institution etc.

It is also worthy to note that Food Professionals that did not meet the requirements were referred to NIFST for clearance as required by law. The Food Professionals who were referred to NIFST for clearance have reverted to NiCFoST to inquire if NIFST has forwarded their names to enable them to complete their registration. NiCFoST therefore, appeals to NIFST to send more batches of membership list so that those who have been cleared, can be registered. NiCFoST needs to grow the number of registered Food Professionals to enable it activate the benefits that will accrue to Certified Food Scientist of Nigeria.

NiCFoST is proud of being in the position to persuade NIFSTers to pay their dues in order to attain the CFSN status and obtain the benefits therefrom. This will certainly swell the purse of our noble Professional Association, NIFST and reduce NIFST’s worry about the lingering indebtedness by members.

What Professional Practice Means: It refers to the conduct and work of someone from a particular profession. Professions are occupations that require a prolonged period of education and training and often overseen by legally constituted bodies who may accredit educational establishments and qualified professionals. Therefore, to practice professionally, the Food Professional is expected to have been trained in the field and to demonstrate competence in the application of food scientific skills where it is needed and can be held responsible when he/she fails to perform optimally within the expected competence.

The value of certification cannot be over-emphasized. The buildup of registered Food Professionals will provide NiCFoST a major data for the pursuit of improved remuneration for registered Food Professionals especially those employed in Government service. NiCFoST has already applied for Schemes of Service implementation for Food Science Technology Cadre (For B.Sc/B.Tech Degree holders) and Food Science Technologist Cadre (For OND/HND Degree holders) in the Federal Civil Service awaiting approval. NiCFoST is using this opportunity to congratulate those that have been successfully registered and sends her apology for the difficulties they may have encountered in the process.

The Council equally encourages those who are yet to register to do so and obtain their certificates of registration and annual practice licence thereafter.

Thank you.

Mrs Nkechi Veronica Ezeh, FNIFST, CFSN

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