The General Manager, Corporate Affairs TGI Group, Mr. Sadiq Kassim, has lamented the nation’s high import rate of food and agricultural commodities, which currently stands at N3.3 trillion.
Kassim said spending so much on importing food is unsustainable for Nigeria, especially at a time when the country is grappling to earn the much foreign exchange it needs to carry out capital projects for economic growth and development.
He stated this during a panel session at the unveiling of Afrinvest 2023 Nigerian Banking Sector Report in Lagos recently.
He said that Nigeria has the capacity to produce all its food requirements even as he called on the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) to fund the commercialisation of research findings to boost the discovery of new food varieties to meet the ever growing demand for food.
Kassim said: “90 per cent of the food we consume is produced by the smallholder farmers in Nigeria since it was created and that is incontrovertible. Although, the Russian-Ukraine war made nations experience a disruption in their respective food value chains and systems, but we survived. There is capacity to produce food in the country.
“We need to revive all agricultural development initiatives diligently in this country. I am sure we can do this because the N3.3 trillion imports of food or agricultural commodities are not sustainable and we cannot continue with this.”
He, however, stated that the nation’s agricultural sector is growing significantly, but called for more support and funding for the sector to come out of the woods.
He said: “The export figure of agriculture export has risen more than what was happened from 2016 to 2019. In 2016-2019, we exported N800 million, but in 2022, we did more than N500 billion export of agricultural commodity which is more than what has been done in the previous years.
“53 per cent of our youths are unemployed and for me that is a great labour availability in the agricultural sector and there are only 37 per cent of women which means we are excluding half of the population from agriculture.”