Nigerian government functions in for some local flavour

Nigerian public officials with a taste for the country’s local food might find future government functions a little more enjoyable.

President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan

In an effort to boost agricultural production, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has announced that from now on local foods will be served at all official government functions.

“We must use our population to create markets for what we produce. We must grow local, buy local and eat local … I have directed that all official functions of government serve local foods, especially our local rice and cassava bread and other foods. In the State House, I am faithfully keeping to my promise of eating cassava bread and local rice,” said Jonathan during his Democracy Day address earlier this week.

The president called for an end to “the era of food imports” describing the current situation as “unacceptable”. Nigeria spends over US$10 billion per annum on the importation of wheat, rice, sugar and fish alone.

He said it is the government’s goal to transform the oil-based economy into a diversified one, with a particular focus on agriculture. Agriculture accounts for 40% of Nigeria’s GDP and over 70% of employment.

Nigeria’s agricultural transformation agenda is directed at promoting the local cultivation and processing of crops, with a specific focus on rice, cassava, cocoa and cotton.

To boost the production and milling of rice, the government is facilitating the import and installation of 100 new rice mills across the country. “This will allow Nigeria, for the first time in its history, to have the capacity to mill all of the rice that we consume,” said Jonathan.

It is also the government’s aim to make Nigeria the world’s largest producer and processor of cassava, a rugged root crop that looks like a sweet potato.

“To further encourage cassava utilisation and value-added products, government will support corporate bakers and master bakers across the country to use high quality cassava flour for baking. Last year I announced an increase in tariff and levy on wheat. To encourage the cassava flour inclusion policy, I now direct that part of the levy and tariff on wheat be set aside to support the promotion of high quality cassava flour and composite cassava bread,” Jonathan noted.