•Nigeria spends $1bn annually on milk import
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said the Federal Government will soon extend the ban on importation of rice to some other food products.
The minister served the notice yesterday in a keynote speech at the Eighth Annual Bola Tinubu Colloquium, with theme: “Agriculture: Action, Work and Revolution” in Abuja.
Ogbeh, who was represented by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri said based on the advice of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), a list of some injurious imported food products was being compiled.
The minister did not mention the food products, but said the list when concluded would be passed on to President Muhammadu Buhari for outright ban.
Lokpobiri added that the impending ban was necessary because of the increasing health hazards suffered by Nigerians, including kidney problems and other organ failure.
He said nomadic farming was no longer sustainable hence the determined effort to have a more enduring method of cattle rearing that would cut the huge foreign exchange spent on importing milk.
He said the nation was spending $1billion annually in importing milk.
The minister painted a very bright future for the nation’s agriculture sector, saying the country would in three years achieve self-sufficiency in rice, sorghum and millet.
He also said self-sufficiency would be realised in tomato paste by the end of this year.
As part of the administration’s strategic plan to reposition agriculture, the minister stated that the Federal Government would subsidise fertiliser, while the states were encouraged to provide extension services and build feeder roads to facilitate evacuation of agricultural produce.
Lokpobiri also said the ministry would in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources move agriculture from a seasonal business to an all-year round enjoyment “to enable us put into proper use, the over 200 under-utilised dams scattered across the country”.
He insisted that no nation could be called great if it could not afford its citizens sufficient and nutritious food products.
The colloquium’s theme was aimed at reawakening the consciousness of Nigerians, especially stakeholders and policy makers to look beyond oil and move towards diversification of the economy through agriculture.