The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said the nation spends about $500m annually on dairy product imports.
As a result, he said the country needed to refocus on agriculture and production to drive economic growth and development.
The governor spoke when he received officials of Heifer International, who were on a courtesy visit at the Government House, in Benin City.
A statement quoted him as noting that his government was prioritising agricultural production, sustaining investment in the sector to boost the state’s economy, tackle food insecurity and create wealth for citizens.
He was quoted as saying, “We have a small state of about five million people, 70 per cent of the people are under the age of 35 years, and need to make them know and understand that we don’t have the dollars to import food anymore as Nigeria spends about half a billion US dollars importing dairy products.”
He added, “Food and food security is very huge, particularly protein sufficiency for the mass of our people, especially children. We are a rich country with a rich and huge population. At some point in our history, we turned from agricultural production as we found crude oil and felt we have enough petrol, naira, and dollars to keep ourselves going forgetting that sometimes in our life we need to produce what we will eat.
“We became poor by exporting all we needed including food and food items. We spend billions of naira and dollars annually on the foods we can produce on our own.”