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Nigeria is eating beyond its means – Agriculture Minister

By on August 15, 2011

The Federal Government weekend disclosed that N991 billion was spent in the year 2010 for the importation of rice and wheat in the country.

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, disclosed this at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Oyo State, when he addressed stakeholders on Cassava Value Chain Development in Nigeria.

Lamenting the dangers of the country’s reliance on imported food, Adesina said it was dangerous for Nigeria to spend so much importing food to meet its people’s food needs when it possesses massive potentials to produce food commodities.

Reeling out grim statistics of the colossal food importation bill of the country, the minister said, as one of the largest food importers in the world, Nigeria spent N635 billion to import wheat and N356 billion to import rice in the year 2010 alone; bringing the total bill for the importation of these cereals to N991 billion last year.

“In 2010 alone, Nigeria spent N635 billion on import of wheat, N356 billion on import of rice, N217 billion on sugar importation and despite the huge marine resources spent N97 billion importing fish,” Adesina said.

“This is not fiscally, economically or politically sustainable. Nigeria is eating beyond its means. While we all smile as we eat rice every day, Nigerian rice farmers cry as the imports undermine domestic production. Our farmers sow in hope but reap in tears, as cheap food imports dash their hopes of better prices or incomes,” the minister lamented.

He stressed that as Nigeria imports food from the global market all it is doing is importing inflation. He added that low productivity of domestic production systems increases prices of non-tradable food crops together, leading to rise in food price inflation. “With poor urban and rural household spending 70 to 80 per cent of their income on food, life is unbearable for many,” he noted.

The Minister explained that the country can no longer continue to depend on expensive food imports and thin volatile global markets to meet its food requirements, maintaining that as the events of the food crisis unfolded, traditional food exporting countries put bans on food exports. “Thus, even if importing countries have the resources to finance food imports, the food may not be there,” he added.

According to him, food security in Nigeria is now a matter of national security, stating that the country must learn from Asian countries by tapping into all the resources of its farmers across the nation and deliver a green revolution that will make Nigeria self-sufficient in food production.

“We must turn Nigeria into a bread basket – a power house for food production. To do so, we must make a fundamental paradigm shift: Agriculture is a business, not a development programme. It must be structured, developed, resourced and financed as a business,” he said.


One Comment

  1. Mogburia

    September 14, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    To turn Nigeria into a bread basket, Agricultural Research and Development must be adequately funded by Government at all levels and Corporate entities. These funds should be channeled to all National Agricultural Research Centers/Institutes, Agricultual Universities and Faculties of Agriculture in all conventional Universities. Furthermore, efforts should also be directed towards value added chains in the processing sectors. Power is a driving force here.