Dr. Ogbonnya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, said in Abuja on Thursday that food security is very important to Nigeria and that the nation needs to be well positioned to feed itself.
Onu said Nigeria’s emerging population means that its inability to feed its citizens would create problems for the country and the world community as well.
When he received a delegation from the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology to pay him a courtesy call, he said the continued import of food had already caused prices to rise and put pressure on the country.
He said the ministry is determined to move the country’s economy from being an exporter of raw materials and natural resources to being knowledge-based and more productive.
“We firmly believe that once our economy depends on knowledge, we can use this knowledge to turn the raw materials we have in abundance into products and services,” he said.
The minister stressed that importing the country’s needs is not cheap for a nation with a large population like Nigeria.
With more than 60 percent of the Nigerian population made up of young people, the inability to create jobs creates difficulties.
Onu added that if imports fell and local production of products and food were stimulated, the nation’s GDP would increase.
He also said that food safety and adherence to high standards are necessary, adding that food safety is vital.
“Nobody will be happy to import or export food that is not safe,” he said.
The minister noted that the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology was very important to the country’s economy and mandated the institute to maintain the standard and ensure food safety.
“Once we can maintain a very high standard and ensure that our food is safe, it will be easier for us to enter the African market and then the global market,” he said.
Previously, Prof. Iwe Maduebibisi, National President of the Institute, said he looks forward to a more concerted effort with the Ministry in its joint efforts to set a new course for the Institute.
Maduebibisi assured the minister that the institute was ready to assist the government in ensuring food security, security and availability.