Abuja – Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture, says Nigerian spends N2 trillion annually on food importation.
Adesina, who disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at an interactive session with members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, said the country had become a dumping ground for imported food.
“It is a shameful thing that Nigeria has become a net importer of food. Nigeria has become a dumping ground for cheap food and it is killing our people and the economy.
“N1 billion is spent every day to import rice. We also spend N240 billion to import sugar, and N1.2 trillion annually on fish. With this, we are creating market for others.”
The minister noted that only three per cent of the nation’s budget was spent on agriculture and suggested that the allocation should be increased to 10 per cent in the 2012 budget to boost food production.
He said that if the agricultural sector was properly funded, it would not only reduce the country’s dependence on food importation, but would also create employment for the people.
Adesina said that about 3.5 million jobs could be created and an estimated N300 billion generated from the agricultural sector in the next four years, if the right investment were made in the sector.
“About 2 million jobs can be created from cassava alone, 400,000 jobs from cocoa, 125,000 jobs from cotton and one million jobs from rice.’’
Responding, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on agriculture, Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha, decried the prolonged neglect of the agricultural sector.
He gave assurance that his committee would ensure that an appropriate budgetary allocation was made to the sector in the 2012 budget. (NAN)