Kaduna - Bukar Tijjani, the Minister of State for Agriculture, on Wednesday said Nigeria was losing N1.6 trillion due to its failure to exploit export opportunities from four agricultural commodities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the commodities are palm oil, cocoa, groundnut and cotton.
Tijani spoke at the training of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members on Seed Certification and Quality Control Activities at the Division of Agricultural Colleges (DAC), Zaria, Kaduna State.
Tijjani was represented by the Director-General, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and programme Coordinating Director, Rev. Olusegun Olatokun.
He said that the commodities would have contributed immensely to economic growth.
He observed that Nigeria had the opportunity to be the largest exporter of such commodities in Africa but did not take advantage of it.
The minister recalled that by 1960, Indonesian yield per hectare was lower than that of Nigeria, but 20 years later the former tripled its yield per hectare.
He said that Nigeria’s production remained between 20 and 50 per cent per hectare.
While assuring Nigerians that the days of importing cheap food was over, Tijjani said that agriculture would no longer be a programme government would ignore.
He said that some imported rice were stored for up to 14 to 15 years before they were brought into Nigeria.
In his speech, the Director, Seed Certification, NASC, Dr Phillip Ojo, thanked the minister for bringing the corps members together.
He said that the training would involve both theoretical and practical works.
Earlier, the North-West Regional Head, Malam Hudu Ubandoma said that improved seeds would accelerate the attainment of food security as witnessed in developed countries like China and India.
"With well organised seed system in place, if properly funded and its functions strengthened, Nigeria will be on its way to the attainment of food security.’’