Food inflation: Nigerians need to stop seeing food imports as evil- UAC Foods M.D

The Managing Director of UAC Foods Ltd, Mr. Oluyemi Oloyede has stated that Nigerians should stop seeing food importation as evil in light of the high food inflation being witnessed across the country.

Oloyede made this statement at the 10th Regional Food Science and Technology Summit/NIFST Day 2024 celebration on Thursday in Lagos. The event’s theme was “Attaining Sufficient, Safe, and Healthy Food for Nigerians Through Food Science and Technology.”

According to him, Nigeria cannot produce all the foods and it must determine the foods to produce and those to export and create an open market that allows import and export.

He said, “We must view the current global, national and sub-national challenges as opportunities to develop plans to guarantee food security at all levels and this is everyone’s responsibility, including government and donor agencies.”

“As a country, we cannot produce all foods, no country in the world does, hence we need to decide on what is to be produced and exported. We must operate an open market that allows us to export and import. Nigerians need to stop seeing imports as evil, especially when we are battling with food inflation and other countries are able to produce these foods cheaper.”

Nigerians prefer prices over nutritional quality

He emphasized the need to improve nutrition for children and young adults, highlighting that 32% of children under five in Nigeria are malnourished.

Oloyede pointed out that most Nigerian households prioritize price, taste, and sufficiency over nutrition, which affects the quality of food available in markets and on shelves.

For instance, he noted that while the average consumer desires protein sources such as cow milk, accessibility challenges force them to opt for non-dairy creamers instead of skimmed or full-cream milk. Oloyede explained that consumers are now sacrificing nutrition, with protein levels as high as 30%, for affordability, with protein levels as low as 2%.

Nigerians should focus on crops it has a competitive advantage

Furthermore, he explained that Nigeria should scale its competitive advantage in certain crops like cassava, yam, cocoyam, beans, and melon seeds rather than compete with other countries in wheat, sugar, or milk.

He stated, “We are a large producer of cassava, yam, cocoyam, beans, and melon seeds and we are among the largest producers of groundnuts, maize, rice, and plantain. Instead of trying to compete in wheat or sugar or milk, at least for a start, we should first scale where we have competitive advantages.”
“We need to increase acreage, support mechanisation, release improved seeds that will increase yields, subsidise scaled production and use some of these as substitutes where we do not have a competitive advantage.”

What you should know

The administration of President Tinubu has continued with the no food import policy of the previous government rather preferring to depend on local production despite high food prices and calls from some quarters that food import will bring prices down.

However, a recent policy document seen by Nairametrics recommended the temporary food import of maize and rice paddy for six months to increase supply and push prices down.



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