Countries from far and near begged Nigeria for foods during the Coronavirus lockdown imposed to checkmate the spread of the pandemic disease, Babatunde Fashola, has said.
Mr Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, made this known on Saturday during an Instagram Live Chat with City People Magazine.
He spoke on the COVID-19 Economic Sustainability Plan recently submitted by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to the President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the plan contains diverse measures to fortify the Nigerian economy against any shock brought by the pandemic.
“Agriculture is another critical part of the Economic Sustainability Plan. We want to increase the cultivatable lands in the country. We are currently cultivating just about one-third and I stand to be corrected on that figure – the minister of agriculture knows the numbers than I do,” the minister said.
“But in his presentation, as I recollect it, we are not cultivating enough lands. We want to double cultivation, increase food output, not just for local use but for export.
“I must say to Nigerians that because of the success of the agriculture programme which is still evolving, during this COVID exercise, many countries were writing to us from near and far, asking us to please supply them food. This is not in the public space but President Buhari’s priority was, tell them to wait, we must feed our people first before we send out food, we don’t know when this is going to end.
“So, we want to see more value-added in the sector in terms of processing and cultivation. We are losing an unsatisfactory quantity of our agro produce to many factors – transport, cooling, heating and so on. These are some of the components that the Ministry of Agriculture will share in the next few months about how to ensure that we preserve many more of what we produce and lose less,” the former Lagos State governor added.