Nigeria spends N635b on wheat yearly, says minister of Agriculture

THE Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has disclosed that Nigeria spends an average of N635 billion yearly to import wheat into the country.

He, however, hinted that the Federal Government had taken practical steps to halt such wasteful spending by encouraging the use of cassava flour for bread and other pastries.

Adesina spoke yesterday while joining Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to launch the Cassava Bread Initiative in the state. He said that the country must increase its productive capacity in agriculture and rely heavily on “Made in Nigeria products” for the Federal Government to be able to hit its proposed 20 million jobs for Nigerians in 2015.

Adesina disclosed that countries like the United States (U.S.) and Britain were making enormous progress in economic development because they export more of their finished products more than the importation of primary products.

Fayemi promised adequate funding for cassava growers in the state, noting that about 20,000 jobs would be generated under commercial agriculture before 2014, with special bias for the growth of cassava.

According to him, “as we launch this initiative today, Ekiti State has become the first state in the federation to tap into the many economic and nutritional advantages of cassava bread after the recent launch by the Federal Government.”

Fayemi hinted that the government would encourage cassava revolution in the state by funding cassava production to sustain the cassava bread initiative and ignite industrial growth in the state.

The governor hailed President Goodluck Jonathan’s support for agriculture in the state with the construction of 100,000 capacity metric tonnes silos in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.

The governor urged the Federal Government to expedite action for the commencement of work on the Rice Processing Mill promised the state by the President during his electioneering.

He said: “We believe that consumption of cassava bread is healthy as it reduces to a large extent the injurious content which the white bread poses to certain categories of consumers, particularly those with diabetic-related cases. We have always believed that healthy people make a healthy society. The health of our people is of great concern to us as we consider them the plank upon which a developed state with all the indices of growth is built. The cassava bread that is being launched today will go a long way in this regard.”

The minister branded as arrant nonsense the rumour that cassava bread consumption would increase diabetes among Nigerians, saying it has low glycemic index compared to other brand of breads in circulation.




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