FG Seeks Private Sector Participation to Boost Food Security

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

 The federal government is seeking private sector participation in the agro food processing industry to ensure food security. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Otunba Niyi Adebayo, made the call yesterday  in Abuja at the ongoing 46th conference of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST)

Speaking at the conference with the theme, “Advancing National Development, Wealth Creation and Food Security through Food Processing and Preservation”  and represented by the  Director, Commodities and Export Department, Suleiman Audu, the minister said there was the need for the government to synergise with the private sector to ensure food security.

He said: “It is instructive to inform you that despite these efforts by 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.”

The keynote speaker and Managing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria, Alfred Olajide, said Nigeria needed to avoid wastage of her agro produce and improve on her agro export packaging

Olajide, who was represented by the Director, Public Affairs of the company, Amaka Onyemelukwe, said: “Each year, Nigeria struggles 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 resulting in poorer farmers due to avoidable wastages.

According to him, “In the 1960s, Nigeria had over 60 per cent of global palm oil exports, 30 per cent of global ground exports, and 15 per cent of global cocoa exports (CBN, 2013). By the 2000s, Nigeria’s global share of exports of each of these crops was  five per cent or less.

“Today, the country is a net importer of agricultural produce, with imports totaling NGN 630 billion (CBN, 2013).

Today, we are faced with the reality of inadequate application of science and technology for food production and processing for high value addition to ensure sustainable food security and wealth creation.

” We read in the national dailies that about 76 per cent of our agricultural produce are rejected by the EU and other international markets. This means that we have a significant work to do, and urgent steps must be taken by all stakeholders in the sector to address the challenges facing the processing industry sector.”

The National President of NIFST, Prof. Maduebibisi Iwe, called on the incoming Nigerian leader to take serious the issue of national development and food security.

He stated that at a time the entire world is upset with hunger, malnutron, trade deficits, and all manner of heliccal food-related problems called for more concerted efforts from the Institute, allied professional bodies, government, and people of Nigeria to team up to address the worrisome issue.

Iwe said: “We have a responsibility to rise to the occasion and make 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.”

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