Abuja – Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says the country has deficit in the supply of food commodities.

The minister said this while receiving a team of Russian investors led by the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Udovicnenko Nikolai who visited him in Abuja on Friday.

Ogbeh said that the present administration was ready to evolve flexible policies that would promote agricultural investments.

He said that the country’s demand for rice was currently at seven million tonnes but the local production was at about 3.5 million tonnes, adding that there was a deficit of four million tonnes.

The minister also said that the country had a deficit of three million tonnes in fish production.

According to Ogbeh, we are encouraging potential investors to come to Nigeria and invest, apart from production, we encourage processing of agricultural produce.

He appealed to potential investors, particularly the Russians to take advantage of the existing huge market in the production of rice, wheat, maize, fish, dairy, vegetables and other food crops to invest in Nigeria.

“We will evolve flexible policy that will promote investment and when we see your willingness to invest, we will create enabling environment.

“Nigeria being one of the largest economies in Africa has millions hectare of arable land for agricultural production and any investment in Nigeria is a gateway to other African countries.

“The policy thrust of this administration is to enhance local production of agricultural produce thereby creating wealth and jobs for the teeming youth,’’ Ogbeh said.

He called for the support of the Russian Government in areas of agricultural machinery and technical expertise to boost agricultural yields.

Earlier, the Russian Minister of Agriculture, Mr Tkachev Alexander, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, said they came to explore areas of collaboration with the Nigerian government in the development of agriculture sector.

“Nigeria has huge potential in agriculture like Russia and we are interested in contributing to the economic development of Nigeria through agriculture.

Alexander said that Russian companies were ready to contribute to the nation’s dairy, beef and poultry production as well as provision of machinery and technology if given the opportunity.

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