Nigeria Spends N10tr On Food Importation In 10 Years – FG | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigeria Spends N10tr On Food Importation In 10 Years – FG

Posted: Jul 24, 2015 at 12:46 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chbuzor Emejor,  Abuja


Federal Government says it has spent over N10 trillion on the importation of rice, sugar, wheat and fish over the last 10 years.

The figure indicates that the country spends over N1 trillion yearly in the importation of food items.

The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sonny Echono, disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday at a two-day workshop on the Food Crisis Prevention and Management Charter held at the headquarters of the Ministry.

Echono pointed out that Nigeria’s food import bill was growing at an unsustainable rate of 11 per cent, as Nigeria has continued to rely on the importation of expensive food from the international market.

According to him, “Nigeria became a net importer of food and major importer of wheat, rice, sugar and fish.

“Importation of these four food commodities consumes over N1trillion in foreign exchange every year since 2005.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria showed that Nigeria is the world’s largest importer of United States hard red and white winter wheat with an annual food import of N635billion.

“It is also the second largest importer of rice (N700billion in 2014), sugar (N217billion) and fish (N97billion).

“Nigeria’s food imports are growing at an unsustainable rate of 11 per cent per annum while relying on the import of expensive food on global markets fuels domestic inflation, and Nigeria is importing what it can produce in abundance.

“Import dependency is hurting Nigerian farmers, displacing local production and creating rising unemployment.”

Echono, represented by the Director of Agriculture, Damilola Eniayeju, further explained that Nigeria had vast arable land for cultivation, adding that this must be harnessed by stakeholders in order to effectively prevent food crisis and reduce food importation to the barest minimum.

He noted that the country has about 174 million people to feed daily as well as its neighbours, noting that it was time to start thinking of massive agricultural production for export.

“Nigeria has huge agricultural potential, with over 84 million hectares of arable land, of which only 40 per cent is cultivated. “A population of over 167 million, making it Africa’s largest market; and 230 billion cubic meters of water, making it one of the richest sources for agricultural growth in the world.

“Agriculture contributes to rural people’s livelihoods by providing them with food and income. In addition, agricultural exports have potential to contribute to the national economy through generating foreign exchange and improving the balance of payments,” he said.