The Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, says Nigeria has been losing about 10 billion dollars annually in export opportunities in the agriculture sector.
Adesina, who stated this at the Lake Chad Research Institute Field Day in Keronwa, Marte Local Government Area of Borno, noted that the country had witnessed rapid decline in the agriculture secter over the years due to neglect by previous administrations.
“Nigeria is losing about 10 billion dollar export opportunities in agricultural commodities alone. As we do not produce, we must import.
“Nigeria imports over N1 trilion worth of rice, wheat, sugar and fish every year. Importation of wheat alone accounts for N635 billion every year.''
Adesina lamented that the country's position had over the years, changed from exporter of commodities, to mass importer.
“Nigeria lost her glory in the world trade of groundnuts. In 1961, the country produced 42 percent of world's shelled groundnut export.
“By 2008, Nigeria has fallen completely out of competition as countries like China, USA and Argentina had taken over.”
He said the country also lost out as a world exporter of palm oil, cocoa and cotton in similar circumstances.
“In 1961, Nigeria was responsible for 27 percent of world's export in palm oil, but by 2008, the country was producing far below expectations.
“In 1961, Nigeria was producing 18 percent of world's cocoa but by 2008, the country had lost out to Ghana, Cote d'Ivore and Indonesia.
Adesina stated that the country lost its position in cotton production to countries like Mali and Burkina Faso in similar manner.
He said the Federal Government was concerned about this development because the agricultural sector had the potential to transform the economy.
“Agriculture transformation across the globe had led to dramatic reduction in poverty and increase in job opportunities in China, Vietnam and Brazil, among other countries.
“Nigeria needs to diversify her economy from oil by embracing agriculture.”
Adesina said the Federal Government intended to overhaul the sector to make it viable as part of its vision to place the country among top 20 economies by the year 2020.?