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October 18, 2023

Nigeria has no excuse importing food — Peter Obi

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Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi

. Vows to keep fighting until Nigeria works

By Steve Oko

Labour Party presidential flag bearer in the 2023 general election, Mr Peter Obi, has said that with over 34 million hectares of arable land, Nigeria has no justification for importing food items.

Obi who was the keynote Speaker at the 47th annual conference and general meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology(NIFST), held Wednesday in Umuahia, Abia State, regretted that with a landmass of 923,769 square kilometres Nigeria had not yet achieved self-sufficiency in food production.

The former Anambra State Governor said that Sambisa forest alone if well utilized for agricultural purposes, could sufficiently produce Nigeria’s food need.

He further argued that the rising foreign exchange rate could be effectively controlled through massively investment in agriculture both for local consumption and export.

Obi blamed Nigeria’s leaders for their lack of interest in agriculture which according to him, is very critical.

He said that the teeming unemployed Nigeria youths could be meaningfully engaged through agriculture.

Citing countries like Vietnam, America and Thailand as good examples of countries which have taken their citizens out of poverty through agriculture, Obi challenges all tiers of government in Nigeria to prioritize agriculture.

He regretted that corruption and bad leadership had remained the major impediment towards development of agriculture.

The LP presidential candidate vowed to sustain his struggles against corruption and poverty until Nigeria is finally liberated.

“We must dismantle this criminality and make Nigeria to work for our children,” Obi declared.
Speaking at the event, Gov. Alex Otti said Nigeria should be a major exporter of agricultural produce in the world, but stressed that the country should first produce for her local consumption before exporting to other nations.

The Governor who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Kenneth Kalu, said Nigeria had no excuse to import food when it has millions of hectares of arable land lying farrow.

“If we commit to improving agriculture we will move to achieving self sufficiency in food production and then we can begin to export,” he said.

Otti who identified agriculture as a critical sector said his administration was already investing heavily in the sector.

He promised to provide job opportunities for youths through agriculture.

Earlier in his address, President of NIFST, Professor Joseph Abu, regretted that Nigeria despite its huge population and available land mass, could still not feed herself.

He expressed disappointment over the huge amount of foreign exchange Nigeria spends annually on food importation.

Professor Abu lamented that in 2022, Nigeria imported N1.9 trillion worth of food products, while only N598 billion worth of food products was exported.

“Promotion of locally processed foods in the international space will not only boost the economy of the country but incentivise healthy traditional foods in sustainable manner,” he said.

Vice Chancellor of the Michael Okpara University, MOUAU, Professor Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, was among the members of NISFT present at the conference.

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