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Nigeria Losing $30bn Annually to Imported Food Items – Umeofia

The Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government has been advised to invest more in the areas of agricultural development and food processing to save Nigeria an estimated $30 billion expended on importation of foreign foods and agro-allied products annually.

Foremost industrialist and President/CEO of Erisco Foods Limited, Chief Eric Umeofia, who stated this in an interview with Daily Sun in his Lagos office decried such huge capital flight arising from Nigerians; support for farmers and agro-allied processors in China and India to the detriment of the local economy.

He urged the Mu­hammadu Buhari administration to demonstrate the necessary courage to ban imports of foods and to encourage the growth and sustenance of indigenous investments in the agricultural and food pro­cessing business. The Erisco Foods boss who attributed the rising cases of renal failures and other terminal diseases among Nigerians to the consumption imported foods including tomato paste from Asia, said the easiest way to check such ugly trends would be to ban substandard foods coming into the country.

He regretted that foreign manufacturers have continued to collaborate with Nigerian agencies to undermine the country’s economic interest by dumping products they cannot even consume in their home countries.

Umeofia also called for major reforms in NAFDAC and Customs Service, the two regulatory institutions with responsibility for checking quality of goods entering the country, noting that it was the leakages from these establishments that have aided foreign firms engaging in dumping of sub-standard foods in the country.

“We need to diversify the economy more into agriculture. We have about $30 billion to save annually if we patron­ise made-in-Nigerian foods and made-in-Nigerian agric products,” Umeofia said.

“We are losing so much depending on foreign products and that is not the way to develop because some of the foods imported into the country are very harmful to the health of our citizens and our regulatory agencies like NAFDAC and Customs are not doing enough to check what comes in,” he added.

He lamented that many local food processing firms are finding it hard to sell off their goods owing to the presence of large volumes of cheap and substandard products in Nigerian market. He called on the economic team of President Muhammadu Buhari to develop a home-grown economic programme that suits the peculiarities of the country and end the trend of trying to deploy foreign economic theories to solve the country’s problems.

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