The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono on Monday said the country can produce food to feed itself only if it can recognise its market which is capable of contributing immensely to the economy.
The Minister who disclosed this known during a press briefing in Abuja to mark this year’s World Food Day, said the country has gotten to the stage of feeding itself and extending help to other country as food can move from surplus area to deficit areas.
Nanono said the border closure was triggered by the importation of expired raw materials and food stuffs into the country. He added that the custom would double its efforts so that the country would have better comparative advantage than most of the African countries.
According to him, “the policy of government is to feed ourselves, I think when the government came out with a policy on rice , most people were uneasy because they were used to importing foreign rice. Our country became a dumping ground for some of these expired rice smuggled into this country. So the decision was taken to close the border in order to sanitize those stakeholders who solely depend on imported food.
“I went on tour to Borno and Bauchi States and from the reports that I have seen, there will be a bumper harvest .
“There were some problems of flood in certain areas like Borno and part of Yobe and Adamawa States that inflicted heavy damage on available crops but I think those parts of the country with surplus will make up for those parts with deficit because Nigeria will come to a stage where we will feed ourselves and extend our hands to our neighbours”.
The Country Representative, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Suffyan Koroma while speaking, harped on the need for government to adopt policies, food standards and regulations that would prioritise the availability and affordability of safe foods.
He noted that private sector could positively influence the food environment by adapting its products to modern nutritional recommendations.
“Farmers need better incentives to increase and diversify the production of high quality food.
“Eradicating hunger is FAO’s top priority, but we also need to address all forms of malnutrition and pay close attention to the rising prevalence of overweight is currently at 19.9 percent, which is higher than the globally accepted numbers.
“Food system transformation requires strong political commitment for collective synergy and a holistic design of agriculture and food chains,” he added.