The effort of the federal government to boost agricultural productions is yielding result as Lagos Ports recorded 160 per cent increase in agricultural exports in 2017.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this yesterday at a retreat held in conjunction with Synergos towards enhancing public service delivery.
Ogbeh said the increase projected a robust outlook as the country exported more than it was importing last year.
The minister said that more than 35 million dollars was earned last year from the export of Zobo, a local drink produced from Hibiscus leaves.
“All containers that used to carry cargo before and were half empty are now going out fully loaded with goods for export, such that we are now short of containers at the ports,” Ogbeh said.
He stressed that apart from oil and gas, agriculture was the biggest sector in terms of job creation in the country, saying that additional six million jobs were expected to be created by the 12 million Nigerians involved in the cultivation of rice.
“This year is our last lap and today, rice importation from Thailand has drastically reduced by 95 percent as directed by the President, who wants Nigeria to be a major exporter of food. There is a demand for Nigeria’s agro produce. All we need do is to strengthen our quality control and once make agriculture a force and a national culture,” he said.
He criticised the practice of drying tomato in Kano and Katsina States, which he said is harmful for human consumption, when they come in contact with the excrement of goats and cattle, whenever they run their mouths on them.
Ogbeh also added that government has the desire to open new frontiers this year by focusing heavily on improved fertilizer blending and plantation crops particularly cashews and cocoa.
Nigeria is presently rated as the fourth leading producer of cocoa beans in the world, behind Cote d’ Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia.