Food importation gulps $30bn annually – Ogbeh

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Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh has revealed that Nigeria spends about $30 billion annually on food importation, saying that the federal government was taking steps to halt the trend.
The minister disclosed this at the University of Ilorin while delivering a goodwill message at the 13th Children and Youths in Agriculture Programme, CYIAP, held at the university yesterday.
Represented by a director in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. A. Efuntoye, the minister said it was the government’s desire to stem this importation that was creating jobs for people of other nations while Nigerian youths wallow in unemployment.
He also disclosed that the average age of farmers in Nigeria was 65, meaning that very soon if nothing changed, nobody would be left to farm.
According to him, “Consequently, government has reached agreement with African Development Bank, ADB, to secure $300 million in the next five years for youth empowerment programme, when Nigerian banks join the fray, we expect about $1.5billion credit facilities for about 85,000 Nigerian youths.
“Also, the Bank of Agriculture, BOA, is being reformed. Government will ultimately hands-off. It will be fully owned by Nigerian farmers. When we finish the reforms, you will not need collateral to take loans and interest rate will be about five percent. We are working to see farmers’ groups and associations owning and managing it themselves.”
The minister further explained that, “To qualify for credit facility under the Youth Empowerment in Agriculture Scheme, one needs to attend a Youth Investor Incubation Programme,” saying that the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Ibadan, had been designated for such purpose and that interested universities with Faculty of Agriculture could also be allowed to train youths to access this credit.
During the internship training, he pointed out, each participant would be paid a stipend but upon graduation, they would be given as …Read More

Source:: Nigerian Pilot