Ogbe Pledges To Turn-round The Agricultural Sector | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ogbe Pledges To Turn-round The Agricultural Sector

Posted: Nov 12, 2015 at 9:09 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

…To Reduce Nigeria’s Food Import Bill

By Chibuzor Emejor, Abuja

The new Minister of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, has pledged to turn-round and re-position the agricultural sector.

Ogbe who made the pledge on Wednesday at the Headquarters of the Ministry in Abuja together with the Minister of State for Agriculture, Heinken Lokpobriu, lamented that Nigeria spends over $22billion per annum in the importation of food items.

He stated that following the dwindling resources accrued from oil and gas sector of the economy, that agriculture has become the mainstay of the economy in terms of job creation, poverty alleviation and wealth generation.

According to him, “This Ministry will carry a new burden now. Oil and gas has served the country well only that we did not manage its resources well.

“Now, the pressure of this country is for diversification. The attention is turning again to agriculture. So how we are going to make it work, to respond to the new dynamics is the burden that all of us will carry together.

“We have to intensify research, marketing at home and abroad. We have to deal with the issue of reducing the import burden of food which is almost $22billion a year.

“I don’t know how to explain why we are importing banana or Arish potatoes from South Africa or vegetables from South America into our shops.

“We import honey worth $100million from China every year and $400million worth of tomato paste. What is even worse which we will together deal with is the nutrition problem.

“Cancer, liver and kidney failures is 25per cent as a result of what we eat. I am not a medical doctor. But I remember what Chinese normally say, you are what you eat.

“A lot of poisoning is getting into our food system, simply from poor packaging only.”

The new minister of Agriculture said he would give priority attention to the improvement of the quality of seeds and fertilizers used by Nigerian farmers.

Ogbe further assured that during his tenure that the nutritional quality of what Nigerians eat would improve, adding that the recent report of UNICEF on Nigeria’s level of nutrition indicated that about 37 per cent of Nigerian children are malnourished.

He also underscored the need for the ministry to create an enabling environment for theyouth in order to attract them into the agricultural sector, in view of the large aging population in the sector and huge population to feed.

To this end, he promised to work with the management and staff of the ministry as a team to realise the set goals and objectives.