By Sylvester Thompson
Dr Ogbonnya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, said in Abuja on Thursday that food security was very critical to Nigeria and that the nation must be well positioned to feed itself.
Onu said Nigeria’s burgeoning population meant that its inability to feed its citizens would create problems for the country and also for the global community.
Receiving a delegation of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology that paid him a courtesy visit, he said continuous importation of food already created a hike in prices, thereby putting pressure on the country.
He said that the ministry was determined to move the country’s economy away from that of exporter of raw materials and natural resources to one that was more knowledge-driven and productive.
“We believe very strongly that once our economy depends on knowledge, we can use that knowledge to convert the raw materials that we have in abundance into products and services,’’ he said.
The minister stressed that the importation of the country’s needs was not favourable to a nation with a large population like Nigeria.
He said since more than 60 per cent of the Nigerian population was made up of young people, the inability to create jobs would lead to difficulties.
Onu added that the nation’s GDP would rise if there was a reduction in importation and there was encouragement of local production of products and foods.
He said also that there was the need for food safety and maintenance of high standards, adding that food safety was of vital importance.
“Nobody will like to import or export food that is not safe,’’ he said.
The minister noted that the Nigerian Institute for Food Science and Technology was very critical to the nation’s economy and tasked the institute to maintain standard and to ensure food safety.
“Once we can maintain very high standard and ensure that our food is safe, it will be easier for us to penetrate the African market and then the global market,’’ he stressed.
Earlier, Prof. Iwe Maduebibisi, National President of the Institute, said it looked forward to more concerted efforts with the ministry in their collective effort to chart a new course for the institute.
Maduebibisi assured the minister that the institute was prepared to support government to ensure food security, safety and availability. (NAN)