The Nigeria imported foods worth N1.3trillions between 2007 and 2010. This fact was disclosed by Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the new Minister of Agriculture in Abuja. Adesina, disclosed this when he assumed duty in Abuja.
Giving a breakdown of the amount, he said that over N635 billion was spent to import wheat, N365 billion on rice, N217 billion on sugar and N97 billion on fish . the minister noted that despite the high volume of food importation, the natural and agricultural endowments of the country and its productivity had been “very low” .
He pointed out that such a development contributed to the growing food insecurity in the country. The new minister, however, said that Nigeria was not lacking in the production of cassava, having been adjudged the largest producer of the commodity in the world with 45 million tonnes.
Adesina however regretted that despite this advantage in cassava production the nation accounted for zero per cent of global value addition.
He observed that Thailand that accounted for only 10 per cent of global cassava production had 80 per cent added value. He described the Nigeria agricultural situation as not acceptable and called for urgent attention to be given to the sector.
“In those years, Nigeria accounted for over 60 per cent of the global supply of palm oil and 35 per cent of groundnut. It also accounted for 23 per cent of groundnut oil and 15 per cent of cocoa, while farmers from North to South made money from their sweat.
The quality of lives improved, children went to good schools, our Nation was food self-sufficient, farmers fed the nation but alas today the glory has been lost,” he recalled.
Adesina promised to promote the transformation agenda of the government stressing that President Good Luck Jonathan has set agriculture as one of the major driver of the transformation agenda.
“We will revolutionalise agriculture and transform the sector as a business that must work for small and commercial farmers, that will unlock wealth and allow Nigeria to meet its food requirement and diversify income of the nation,” he promised.
The minister is an agricultural economist with over 20 years of professional experience in African agriculture.
He worked at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), IITA and Rockefeller Foundation, before his new appointment.