By Shola Oyeyipo
President Muhammadu Buhari has commended Nigerians for cutting their taste for foreign products, which has increased Nigeria’s food self-sufficiency, and resulted in savings of over $21 billion.
President Buhari, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the humongous savings will be deployed in other critical areas like infrastructure, education, health care and many others.
Adesina said the president’s comment was a reaction to recent disclosures by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, who spoke at the 2018 Annual Bankers’ Dinner, where he said: “Noticeable declines were steadily recorded in our monthly food import bill from US$665.4 million in January 2015 to US$160.4 million as at October 2018, a cumulative fall of 75.9 per cent and an implied savings of over US$21 billion on food imports alone over that period. Most evident were the 97.3 per cent cumulative reduction in monthly rice import bills, 99.6 per cent in fish, 81.3 per cent in milk, 63.7 per cent in sugar, and 60.5 per cent in wheat. We are glad with the accomplishments recorded so far.”
President Buhari said with the commitment of Nigerian farmers, and the support given by the government, “in no distant future, food importation will be completely alien to us, and we will even export actively, thus reversing our position as a mono- product economy”.
The CBN governor equally spoke on the number of jobs created in the agriculture sector: “In the agriculture sector, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) has ensured that Nigeria emerged from being a net importer of rice to becoming a major producer, supplying key markets in neighbouring countries. As at October 2018, a total number of 862,069 farmers cultivating about 835,239 hectares, across 16 different commodities, have so far benefited from Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which has generated 2,502,675 jobs across the country.”
Describing the development as “heart-warming,” the president said it was just a matter of time before a significantly positive impact would be made in the statistics of the unemployed in the country, particularly from the agriculture sector.
He asserted: “We are on a productive voyage, which would see the ship of state berthing at the harbour of food self-sufficiency, gainful jobs, peace and prosperity for Nigerians.”