NIGERIA’S President Muhammadu Buhari has urged universities of agriculture to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on imported foods and raw materials.
Minister of Agriculture Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar said this while delivering a speech on behalf of the president at the 10th convocation ceremony of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), Abia State, on Saturday.
Buhari said there was no justification for the persistent reliance of Nigerians on imported food and raw materials as there was an abundance of natural resources in the country.
“We can and should be able to feed ourselves on the rich soils and diverse ecologies that God has endowed Nigeria with. We should be determined to wisely exploit the natural resources and inheritance of our nation to feed our people and possibly export to other nations,” he said.
He noted that the universities should cooperate with the National Agricultural Land Development Agency (NALDA) to ensure increased production of local food.
Acknowledging that the schools might be having challenges with funds, he maintained that it was not enough excuse as the country’s endowments exceeded its limitations.
“We shall not relent, rather we shall double our efforts at creating enabling environment for our specialised Universities of Agriculture to fulfill our collective dream of self-reliance in food production,” he said.
In 2019, the Buhari government banned the importation of rice into Nigeria.
Buhari said the ban was to encourage the production of local food and reduce Nigeria’s over reliance on other nations for food.
Although the government has come up with intiatives to foster local production of staple foods, there has not been significant production of local foods in Nigeria.
Farmers under the aegis of Smallholder Women Farmers of Nigeria (SWOFON) have decried lack of equipment for farming activities.
The women farmers said lack of equipment and government inadequacy were part of the reasons responsible for low agricultural output in the country.
Also, insecurity, climate change and COVID-19 have had negative impact on the agricultural sector in Nigeria.