By Emmanuel Elebeke
Abuja—Massive importation of food, especially, rice, wheat, sugar and fish, has continued to bleed the nation’s economy, with the four items accounting for a whopping N1 trillion loss to the nation annually.
Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, ARCN, Prof. Baba Abubakar, disclosed this at a sensitization seminar on Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs, and Agricultural Biotechnology, organised for staff of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development by Biotechnology Development Agency, in collaboration with other OFAB and National Bio-safety Management Agency, in Abuja, yesterday.
Abubakar, who was represented by the Acting Director, Partnership and Linkages Programme, Yarama Ndirpaya, noted with dismay that Nigeria had remained a large food importer, in-spite of massive uncultivated agricultural land across the country.
He said: “Nigeria spends over N1 trillion on the top four food imports annually. And farmers have limited capacity and use techniques that adversely affect soil fertility, water and biodiversity. Human-induced climate change compounds the issue.”
According to him, Nigeria is the largest importer of US hard red and white wheat worth N635 billion annually; world’s number 2 importer of rice at N356 billion; N217 billion on sugar and N97 billion on fish.
Abubakar, who described the development as unacceptable, further noted that Nigerian farmers had limited capacity and used techniques that adversely affected soil fertility, water and biodiversity and warned that unless farmers were empowered with biotechnology, the problem might linger into the future.
Applying the principle of total productivity factor, TPF, he revealed that of Nigeria’s 98 Mha land, 74 Mha, representing 75 per cent was good for farming, but lamented that less than half was put to use.