Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said Nigeria spends over N1.6tn ($10bn) yearly on importation of wheat, rice, sugar and fish. He spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at the 2013 Korea International Cooperation Agency Alumni Seminar Session in Nigeria.
Adesina said research had shown that 43 percent of under-five children in Nigeria suffered stunted growth, compared to 39 percent for all developing countries, 26 percent in Ghana, 25 percent in Benin, 29 percent in Botswana, Burkina Faso and Cameroon and 33 percent in Kenya.
According to him, Nigeria ranks 158th out of 182 countries in the Human Development Index, with life expectancy of 52 years; risk of maternal death of one in 18; and under-five mortality rate of 186 per 1,000 live births.
“Nigeria’s stunting prevalence puts it as the 32nd highest out of 136 countries. Nigeria has the third absolute number of stunted children, with 41 percent of children under the age of five stunted, 23 percent underweight and 14 percent wasted,” he said.
Although he acknowledged that overall prevalence of stunting and underweight had been decreasing over the past 20 years, Adesina pointed out that the progress in Nigeria might not be sufficient to meet the Millennium Development Goals of halving the problem by 2015.
But the minister, who was represented by an Assistant Director in the ministry, Mr. Femi Olaleye, maintained that the policy to replace some of the wheat flour used in bread and confectionaries with cassava would earn Nigerian farmers about N128bn ($800m).
Besides, he said, Nigeria had secured about 3.2 million metric tonne of cassava chips for export to China, which would earn farmers and processors over N128bn.
He explained that government’s efforts in agriculture had reduced food importation by $5.3bn.
Adesina said, “We must grow our own food. We must feed ourselves. We must create markets locally for our own farmers.
“Our vision is to move Nigeria to become an agriculturally industrialized economy, to create wealth, jobs and markets for farmers, and revive the rural economy. We plan to grow the size of the agricultural sector from the present level of $99bn per year today to about $300 billion per year by 2030.”
The Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Hyung Choi, said at the event that KOICA was willing to partner with private sectors and NGOs “by making the best use of its limited financial resources in areas where Korea had a comparative advantage.”
He put the KOICA’s total aid volume in 2012 at $445.2m.