Professor Michael Ngadi, Director, Integrated Food and Bioprocess (IFB) programme, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
Ngadi made the assertion on Tuesday at the 20th International Conference and 40th Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institution of Agricultural Engineering (NIAE) hosted by Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara.
Ngadi, a Professor of Food and Bioprocess Engineering, said Nigeria’s food processing sector still remained underdeveloped despite the large potential markets.
He spoke on: “Innovations and Technologies for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanisation and Livestock Transformation for Economic Growth”.
Ngadi said most government agriculture policies had failed to address the food insufficiency debacle, but added that the private sector would make the desired change and impact if given the chance.
According to him, the country still depends largely on imports to meet its demand for quality food in spite of abundant available natural resources.
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“Despite the high cost of production and poor infrastructure, there is an increasing need for local food production processors.
“This is to differentiate their products in order to meet the growing tastes of the young and high-income consumers.
“We consume more processed food yet process very little; our food production system is still rudimentary.
“This present way of producing food is not sustainable and has very little capacity to move Africa out of poverty.
“There is an urgent need for change,” he said.
Ngadi recommended high capacity build-up of stakeholders as very crucial to achieve the desired food sufficiency and socio-economic transformation.
Bishop David Oyedepo, Chancellor, Landmark University, in his welcome remarks, said it was regrettable that over four million college graduates were roaming the streets in search of a job in spite of the country’s endowment with large fertile land.
According to him, agriculture remains one endeavour that will never lose value.
“While the earth remains, agriculture is an open door that cannot be shut night and day, because eating is a must,” he said.
Prof. Adeniyi Olayanju, the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, who doubled as the Chairman, Conference Organising Committee, expressed optimism that the conference deliberations would spark a new mindset of public service in the participants.
“This is towards redeeming the image of the nation and engendering excellent service delivery across the board to guarantee the needed sustainable development in Africa.
“Landmark has been living to its name by creating a commendable impact on the society, having been committed to raising great thinkers, solution providers, adept reformers and exemplary leaders relevant to the 21st Century society,” he said.
Dr. Shuaib Musa, Chairman of NIAE, on his part listed the organisation’s aims and objectives to include promoting the science and art of engineering in agriculture and encouraging origin research.
Others were advancing in every possible way the standards of agriculture engineering as well as promoting the knowledge of agricultural engineering among its members.