FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SLASHES NIGERIAS FOOD IMPORTATION BILL
As part of his project, the minister of state for agriculture and rural development Heineken Lokpobiri has stated that the recent $22 billion food import bill no longer sustains Nigeria.
This was stated yesterday during an inspection of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), in Sheda, Abuja.
He insisted on the fact that NASC has better roles to play and that the council could serve as a much better route for the Federal government to attain its agricultural development.
Lokpobiri explained that the country which is a very critical period of nation building has its cardinal objective at feeding Nigerians in the easiest and most affordable way of the time, because “we can no longer afford the import bill of $22 billion on staple foods”.
As stated by the Managing Director, “A lot of food we produce should be used as export to earn dollars. The foundation of these goals is the availability of quality seeds. The mandate of the seed council is so fundamental that the objectives of feeding the masses can never be achieved unless the council is supported in any way possible to supply seeds needed for Nigeria’s development. It is also very important to note that Nigeria provides 70 percent used in the sub-region”.
He further stressed that the federal government ought to empower, strengthen and further equip the farmers with good and enough seeds, so as to realize the food security target of the government.
He pointed at the fact that NASC was already heading the committee of food agency in the entire Western Sub- regions and has supported immensely some West African nations of which are Cameroon and Zambia.
In addition, the Managing Director advised the seed council to create a commercial unit and accredit other seed companies, in order to derive alternative sources for funding needs and creating revenue.
Once at a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Rasmussen, on the 26th of May, 2016 in Washington DC, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the federal government is determined to significantly reduce the very high bill for importation of food products to Nigeria.
He reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the rapid diversification of Nigeria’s economy. In his affirmation, “We developed a mono-product economy and lost opportunities to diversify in the past. We have great potentials for agriculture and solid minerals. We are now determined to exploit them to the fullest. Addressing the past neglect of these two sectors will help to reduce unemployment and make us a more productive country.
“We will welcome more investment in our agriculture and solid minerals sectors from countries with expertise in the two sectors. We abandoned them for petroleum. Now, we have to go back. “Our bill for the importation of food and dairy products is very high. We want to cut it as much as possible by developing our local potentials,” the president told Mr. Rasmussen.