To promote food security, the federal government of Nigeria seeks private sector participation in the agro-food processing business. Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment Otunba Niyi Adebayo made the call yesterday in Abuja at the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s 46th annual conference (NIFST)
Speaking at a conference with the theme “Advancing National Development, Wealth Creation, and Food Security through Food Processing and Preservation” and represented by Suleiman Audu, Director of the Commodities and Exports Department, the minister stated that the government must collaborate with the private sector to ensure food security.
“It is instructive to inform you that despite these efforts by the government to create food security, there is a strong need to work in synergy with the private sector to attract investment in food processing and preservation to attack hunger in the country. I am confident that this conference will find sustainable ways to advance national development through the creation of food security that will not only complement the crude oil sector but would equally serve as a force towards revenue generation for the nation and job creation for the unemployed youths.”
Alfred Olajide, the keynote speaker and managing director of Coca-Cola Nigeria, stated that Nigeria must prevent the waste of its agricultural products and enhance its agro-export packaging.
Olajide, who was represented by the company’s Director of Public Affairs, Amaka Onyemelukwe, stated that each year, Nigeria strives to increase agricultural production, but the more we produce, the higher the post-harvest losses and poor remuneration for farmers, adding that this is a disincentive that causes farmers to be impoverished due to avoidable wastages.
According to him, in the 1960s Nigeria exported almost sixty percent of the world’s palm oil, thirty percent of the world’s ground, and fifteen percent of the world’s cocoa (CBN, 2013). In the 2000s, Nigeria’s export share of each of these crops was less than five percent.
The country is currently a net importer of agricultural goods, with imports totaling NGN 630 billion (CBN, 2013).
Today, we face the reality of the insufficient application of science and technology to food production and processing for high-value addition to secure long-term food security and economic generation.
The national newspapers report that 76% of our agricultural products are rejected by the European Union and other international markets. This means we have a substantial amount of work to do, and all players in the sector must take immediate action to address the difficulties facing the processing industrial sector.”
Prof. Maduebibisi Iwe, the national president of NIFST, urged the incoming Nigerian leader to take national development and food security seriously.
At a time when the entire world is concerned about hunger, malnutrition, trade deficits, and all manner of terrible food-related issues, he urged the Institute, affiliated professional organizations, the government, and the people of Nigeria to work together to address the troublesome issue.
Iwe stated, “We have a responsibility to rise to the occasion and make a serious and immediate impact on the matter. We are making this call within a period of campaign for the election of new leaders in Nigeria.
“It is very important that our upcoming leaders take the matter of national development, food security, and wealth creation.”