$22bn annual expenditure on imported food unacceptable – Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki has said that the $22 billion annual expenditure on imported foods into the country is unacceptable.

Speaking at a public hearing on the National Fertilizer Quality Control Bill, National Livestock Bill and legal framework for the inclusion of cassava policy bill, Saraki said Nigeria’s livestock production is also grossly inadequate.

Saraki, who was represented by the deputy minority leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, said the Senate will through legislation address the challenges for the country to attain food security.

“Nigeria’s livestock production is also grossly inadequate. We spend some 22bn dollars on food imports annually, with chicken alone accounting for N600bn of that sum. Cattle, the most valued of our livestock products, meets only 60 per cent of our demand.

“It was recently revealed that a Nigerian cow produces only one (1) litre of milk on average per day. When we compare that to the 50 litres output of a cow in the EU and 15 litres in some other African countries, it is all too clear that we are a long way away from sufficiency in dairy products.

“Moreover, there are a number of aggravating factors at play. Our porous borders are a soft touch for smugglers who bring unregulated livestock into our country,” he also said.

He said the country can only make the leap to a sustainable and viable agriculture sector, one that will set us on the road to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2, which is Zero Hunger by 2030, by enacting the needed laws.

In his address, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said the laws, when enacted, would provide the necessary impetus to strengthen the agricultural sector of the country.

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