It is a shame Nigeria spent N7.8 trillion on food importing – Alex Otti

Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, has made a case for the establishment of agricultural ventures across Nigeria as a panacea to food insecurity.

While underscoring the need for all to embrace agriculture for sufficiency, Otti highlighted that a whooping  N7.8 trillion was spent by the Nigerian government on food imports over the past six years.

Otti made the call during a capacity-building training program for the first batch of 300 candidates selected for agricultural training at CSS Global Integrated Farm, Nassarawa State.

The governor emphasized the role of agriculture in not only addressing issues of food security but also in curbing unemployment and fostering socio-economic stability.

He pointed out that the country is blessed with abundant arable land and as such should not be burdened with exorbitant import bills, stressing the need for a paradigm shift and the urgency of stakeholders to take the issue seriously.

He said, “It is a shame that a country of over 200 hundred million people with so much arable land, reputed as the largest producers and cultivators of food items spend so much money importing food.

“Statistics show that in the last six years, this country has spent about N7.8 trillion to import food.

“In 2021, we spent about N1.9 trillion, 2022 & 2023 we spent about N2 trillion each year importing food, so to put it in context, our budget for 2024 is somewhere around N28 trillion; 27.5 trillion and then upgraded to about N28 trillion.

“Don’t also forget that these kind of numbers were not seen between 2015 and 2019. The budget numbers were hovering around 7-10 trillion. So when you spend over 11% of your total buffet importing food, it is a big shame, particularly when you are blessed with land.”

The governor while noting that the two-week agricultural training is aimed at enhancing local food production, urged trainees of the programme to be good ambassadors of the state as well as leverage the opportunity and equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to spearhead agricultural transformation in the state.

He reassured participants of comprehensive support, saying that the state government would cover all expenses from inception to completion of their agricultural training.