14 June 2012

Nigeria: U.S.$10 Billion Annual Food Importation Unacceptable - Envoy

Photo: Francois Schnell/Flickr
Wheat field.

Dr Dalhatu, Tafida, Nigerian High Commissioner to UK on Thursday said it was unacceptable that the Nigeria spends more than 10 billion dollars annually on food importation.

Tafida, who made the remarks at the annual briefing of the Business Council for Africa (BCA) West and Southern regions in London, also said the food import bill was unsustainable.

"This importation including fish, sugar, wheat and rice is a drain on our foreign reserves as a nation," the Europe Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Tafida as saying.

The envoy who spoke on the country's quest to transform from a mono-cultural economy to a diversified one, said increase in agricultural production would revive the rural economy and reduce poverty.

"As you are probably aware, agriculture accounts for about 40 per cent of our GDP and over 70 per cent of employment opportunities," he stressed.

Tafida who also spoke on opportunities for foreign investments in the country commended government for the approval of the trade policy that would make visa procurement easier for Businessmen and women.

He noted that the development would further boost and facilitate the inflow of investments into the country, adding: "currently, we have generated more than N6.6 trillion worth of investment commitments. "

Earlier, Mr Gordon Hutt, BCA Chairman, said that the council was at the forefront of promoting business opportunities in Africa including Nigeria.

Hutt, however, noted that "there is so much negative perception amongst the European countries about doing business in Nigeria which must be corrected".

He assured that the council would do its best to ensure that such perceptions were erased.

Contributing, Mr Clive Carpenter, BCA's Vice Chairman, who corroborated this view, however said in spite of its current challenges, Nigeria was ready to do business with genuine investors.

"Those who really want to do business with Nigeria can do so but, they need tenacity," Carpenter added.

Carpenter who commended the Nigerian mission for the improvement on visa procurement process urged interested investors to follow due process of proper documentation.

NAN reports that BCA established in 1956 comprises of a group of over 400 companies and entrepreneurs with interests in West and Southern Africa.

BCA's objective includes assisting members to transact business successfully in the sub-region, for the benefit of both members and the country in which they are doing business. NAN

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