The Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Monday decried the whopping N635 billion spent on importation of wheat into the country for bread production yearly, describing it as too extravagant and unnecessary.
Speaking during the official commencement of the cassava bread initiative in Ado-Ekiti, Adesina said this prompted the Federal Government to opt for cassava bread option in Nigeria rather than continue to spend heavily on importation of wheat for bread production.
The minister added that Nigerians expended the sum of N10 billion to import food items overseas annually, which he described as wasteful and inimical to the growth of local agricultural products.
He noted that the country must increase its productive capacity in agriculture and rely heavily on 'made in Nigeria products' for the Federal Government to be able to hit its proposed 20 million jobs for Nigerians in 2015.
According to the minister, countries like United States and Britain are making enormous progress in economic development because they export more of their finished products more than importation of primary products.
Also, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, promised adequate funding for cassava growers in the state, saying that about 20,000 jobs will be generated under the commercial agriculture before 2014, with special bias for the growth of cassava.
Fayemi disclosed that the government is going to encourage cassava revolution in the state by funding cassava production to sustain the cassava bread initiative and ignite industrial growth in the state.
He hailed President Goodluck Jonathan 's support for agriculture in the state with the construction of 100,000 capacity metric tonnes Silos in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
The governor urged the Federal Government to expedite action on the commencement of work on the Rice Processing Mill, promised the state by the President during his electioneering campaign.
Speaking further, the minister allayed fears entertained in some quarters that cassava bread consumption will increase diabetes among Nigerians, saying it has low glycemic index compared to other brand of breads in circulation.
He said the initiative had drawn the attentions of other African nations like Malawi, which he said have brought their team of experts to Nigeria to understudy cassava bread production in Nigeria.
Adesina noted that with the way things are going that the country may end up importing over a million metric tonnes of wheat yearly, which he said would have adverse effects on the economy