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Obasanjo cautions against Africa’s $44b food import, neglect of real sector

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Obasanjo. Photo; NAIRAMETRICS


Why dependence on wheat Importation persist, by minister

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, charged African political and business leaders to stop spending $44b on food importation to the continent.

Thiscame as the country battles the challenges of climate change, disruption of farming by bandits, Boko Haram terrorists and herder-farmer clashes.

The crisis between herdsmen and farmers had worsened Edo, Ondo, Oyo and other states in the Southwest, Southeast and North central zones of the country.

Obasanjo cautioned African countries against allowing agriculture and manufacturing sectors to degenerate due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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His words: “We must be able to feed ourselves and this pandemic must be taken as an opportunity to ensure that Africa becomes self-sufficient in staple and essential food items.

“Africa should save the $44b being spent on importation of food yearly. I believe that the one major lesson that COVID-19 has taught us is that we should be self-reliant in food and nutrition, as well as in essential agribusiness implements and domestic appliances.”

He said COVID-19 had adversely affected other sectors of Africa’s economy, including air travel, hospitality and tourism, urging African leaders to study how the rest of the world, where such sectors have equally been adversely impacted, found solutions to manage the impact.

He stated this in this week’s issue of ACCORD 2021 series of the COVID-19 Conflict and Resilience Monitor, in which the former President was featured.

In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media Affairs, Kehinde Akinyemi, he (Obasanjo) canvassed Africa’s self-resilience and homegrown solutions to recover from the socio-economic dislocations of the COVID-19 scourge.

MEANWHILE, in spite of the huge spending on wheat importation, Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Sabo Nanono has declared that country might continue to depend on foreign production and low investment on local production.

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Nigeria spends $6b, an equivalent of N2.2tr on importation of about 5.6 million metric tons of wheat yearly to aggregate high demand.

With less production capacity and shortage of technology, Nigeria produces less than 60,000 metric tons as at 2020, less than 4 per cent of total demand.

The minister spoke yesterday during the Wheat Field Day organised by Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN) to mark International Wheat Farmers Day in Kano.

He blamed the continued dependence on importation of wheat on government’s failure to create an enabling environment for farmers to boost local production, lamenting that despite the huge resources available to improve yield, farmers still lacked basic necessities in the states.

Nanono insisted that instead of relying on milling companies to supplement production, state governments should embark on multiple small cottages and provision of tube wells, an initiative he maintained, would improve local yields.

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