The Federal Government yesterday said that it spends N24.5 trillion on food importation per annum.
This is coming as the national farm yield has dropped to a record low of one ton per hectare as against the global average of five tons.
Speaking at the First Induction of Fellows and Award Ceremony of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) in Abuja, the Chairman Senate Committee On Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, noted that the figure does not take into account food commodities, including animal produce that enter the nation illegally.
“Worst still, Nigeria spends over N24.5 trillion on food importation per annum and available statistics as at 2011 showed that Nigeria spends only three per cent of its national budget on the agricultural sector. Only five per cent of our farmers have access to modern seeds, while the nation uses 13 kilogrammes of fertiliser per hectre as against the global average of 100 kilogrammes per hectre or 400 kilogrammes by China,” Bwacha said.
The chairman emphasised that 2011 statistics showed that Nigeria spent only three per cent of its national budget on agriculture and only five per cent of farmers have access to modern seeds, while the nation uses 13 kilogrammes of fertiliser per hectre.
He noted that only a meagre one per cent of bank loans go to agriculture, yet the sector employs about 70 per cent of the population and accounts for 44 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Lamenting that these statistics were frightening and portend danger to the agricultural industry and economic survival as a nation, Bwacha said that did not come as a surprise given the rot and slide in the agricultural sector since the discovery of oil resources.
Earlier, the President NIAS, Professor Placid Njoku said that the livestock industry has gained significant confidence and made reasonable progress which resulted in a moderate expansion.
The president hinted that the pig industry recovered from the devastation by the African Swine Fever scourge with the population rising from 1.4 million to 6 million pigs through improved animal husbandry and bio-security within the period.