The newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh has pledged to reduce the annual $32 billion bill incurred by the country on food imports.
Speaking at his inaugural press briefing on Wednesday, November 11, 2015, Ogbeh said that the attention of the country has shifted to Agriculture as the oil ad gas sector has failed Nigerians.
Flanked by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Shehu Ahmad, Ogbeh 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.
“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.”