ABUJA – The African Union, Economic, Social, and Cultural Council (AU ESOCC), Nigerian chapter has urged the Federal Government to invest heavily in the agricultural sector in a bid to meet the domestic food demand.
While commending the Federal Government’s decision to stop provision of foreign exchange for importation of food into the country, the group called on government to stamp out smuggling totally as the policy of forex restriction to food importation may increase smuggling if not properly managed.
Mr. John Oba, the Nigerian representative of AU ESOCC, in a statement, said the decision would enhance Nigeria agricultural development as well as enable producers in the sector harness the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, recently.
Oba commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for its agricultural friendly policies, noting that the decision on Forex suspension would improve the nation’s agricultural productivity and attainment of food security.
He called on the CBN to channel the huge amount of money expended on the importation of food items to domestic food production.
He pointed out that Nigeria’s huge annual food import bill was detrimental to the nation’s quest to achieve self- sufficiency in food production.
“There is no more excuse for the government not to increase budgetary allocation to the sector now in accordance to the Malabo declaration which Nigeria is signatory to.”
Oba further called on farmers in Nigeria to take advantage of the restriction of forex on food importation to produce sufficient food, while urging research institutes to assert their importance now to develop time tested research that would enhance Nigeria efforts at attaining food sufficiency and security.