The Federal Government has said the country’s food import bill has declined to N466 billion in the last three years. The government also said the agricultural sector added N780billion to the economy during the same period. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who spoke in Abuja during the inauguration of the first commercial 10 per cent composite cassava flour product from Flour Mills of Nigeria and the Honeywell Group.
He said: “Our food import bill declined from N1.1trillion in 2011 to N634billion by the end of 2013 and it continues to decline. “Our farmers are seeing the benefits and they are producing more food. Our national food production expanded by an additional 21 million metric tons of food within three years, this is a record in our nation’s history.” At the event, equipment that will enable bakers raise the bar of cassava inclusion to 20 per cent and beyond were inaugurated.
Adesina also said Nigeria’s bread contains cassava flour, adding that all cakes and confectioneries eaten in the country now contain cassava flour. He said: “With today’s momentous events, the landscape of cassava in Nigeria has been changed forever. “No more will cassava be seen as a subsistence crop for household and village-level processing. Cassava has become the raw material of choice for the burgeoning bread flour, sweetener, starch, and ethanol market.’’ Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Sunday Echono, said the actualisation of the 20 per cent cassava flour in wheat for bread will save Nigeria N127billion yearly.
Echono also said it would create 1.3 million jobs which would help to grow rural agro industries. “Apart from this, about 1.3 million jobs will be created. In the process, we shall grow the rural agro industries, at the same time increase processing activities and our farmers’ livelihood would have been highly improved and the nation will ultimately be better off for it,” he said. He said in the past two years, the sector has attracted $5.6 billion in investment.