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Agric minister Audu Ogbeh promises to reduce N32bn spent on food import

11/11/2015 22:12

The new Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 promised that his team would work towards reducing the $32 billion spent on food import annually by Nigeria.

Ogbeh disclosed this at his inaugural press briefing which took place at the headquarters of FMARD.

He observed that oil and gas had failed Nigeria, as the country's oil revenue was declining rapidly.

He noted that pressure was now on the agricultural sector to earn foreign exchange to replace oil.

The new minister, who was flanked by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, and the newly posted Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shehu Ahmad, added that there was need to intensify research and marketing for food.

He said, "Oil and gas has served Nigeria well. We did not manage the resources well. We can't blame oil and gas. Now the pressure is on agriculture. How we are going to make it work to ensure yield and harvest is a burden all of us will carry together.

"We are going to face very serious challenges. We have to earn foreign exchange to replace oil. The demand out there is very high if we can produce the right quantity and quality.

"We have to intensify research, marketing of food. We have to deal with reducing the import burden of food of almost $32bn a year. I don't know how somebody can explain importing bananas to the country or Irish potatoes from South Africa or vegetables from South Africa into our shores."

Ogbeh also promised to deal with the problem of high rate of malnutrition in the country, stressing that cancer, liver and kidney failure had increased by 25 per cent in the last 25 years due to food poisoning.

"What is even worse, which we will together deal with, is the nutrition problem. Cancer, liver and kidney failure have increased 25 per cent in the last 25 years. A lot of poisoning is getting into our food system simply from packaging," he said.

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