The World Bank has foretold that Nigeria is running down economically as a result of the abandonment of agriculture and total reliance on crude oil.
Dr Adetunji Oredipe, World Bank’s Senior Agriculture Economist while giving a keynote speech at the Agriculture Summit Africa in Abuja on Thursday stated that Nigeria should take precaution to avert the doom ahead.
According to him, Nigeria should go back into agricultural sectors that have been abandoned and cut excess importation of food items.
The World Bank Agricultural Economist expressed his displeasure as Nigeria has become one of the largest food importers in the world.
According to him: “In 2016 alone, Nigeria spent $965million on the importation of wheat, $39.7million to import rice and $100.2million on sugar importation.”
He stated that it is irresponsible of Nigeria to spend $655million on fish importation despite the marine resources, rivers, lakes, and creeks the country is blessed with.
He added: “None of the above transactions (Importation of rice, fish, sugar) is fiscally, economically, or politically sustainable. Nigeria is tragically is living on borrowed times, a typical case of robbing Paul to pay Peter.
“For instance, each time we spend money to import rice, Nigerian local rice farmers are negatively affected in terms of morale, sales, and realisable income.”
He lamented that despite its huge agricultural potential, Nigeria which used to be a major player in agriculture in the world has lost its place in the global food production club.
He stated: “In the 1960s we had glory. That glory was visible and significant for the global community to recognise and applaud. Nigeria accounted for 42 percent of the world’s exports of shelled groundnuts. Our total export volume was 502, 000 MT.
“This declined to 356 MT by 2016. Nigeria lost its leadership position and was overtaken by USA, China, and Argentina. Nigeria was also the largest exporter of palm oil in the world and accounted for 27 percent of the global export volume for palm oil.
“Total export volume for palm oil by Nigeria was 167,000 MT in 1961. This declined to 8,000 MT by 2016 as the global export volume rose from 629,000 MT in 1961 to over 42.1 million MT in 2016.
“Malaysia and Indonesia took over using the oil palm seedlings obtained from Nigeria. In 2018, Malaysia earned $8.7billion, 28.6 percent of total palm oil exports from export of palm oil alone.
“Indonesia alone recorded US$16.5billion, 54.5 percent of total palm oil exports. Unfortunately, Nige- ria is not listed among the first 15 as at this moment.”
He stated that the high consumption of imported foods had also contributed to the high rate of unemployment of the Nigerian youths.
“Food producing factories in Western world, Far East Asia and other countries employ millions of young people to produce and export food. This is a source of livelihood and it helps the workers to live well and go to school.
“But on our side of the world, Nigerian youths have no one to hire them to build their capacity. This is a typical case of disguised employment or unemployment. It is unacceptable for our graduates to have no one who needs their university /polytechnic acquired knowledge and skills,” he concluded.
In attendance were Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President who was represented by Mustapha Shehuri, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Other principal officers that attended include Mrs Paulen Tallen, the Minister of Women Affairs; Atiku Bagudu, Governor of Kebbi State; Asue Ig- hodalo, Chairman of Sterling Bank Plc, and Abubakar Suleiman, the Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc.