Importation of Indian gari, the Nigerian paradox

Importation of Indian gari, the Nigerian paradox0

Reports of imported gari packaged as “Ïndian gari” displayed and sold to the public in a Lagos supermarket, came as a rude shock and complete surprise to millions of Nigerians. Previously, it was unimaginable that Nigeria could ever get to the point of importing gari, a popular West African staple food made from cassava tubers.

Nigeria is not only the world’s largest producer of cassava, producing in excess of 45 million metric tonnes per annum and accounting for over 80 per cent of the world’s output. According to the World Bank, indigenous research institutions and the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS, Nigeria is also prided as the world’s largest exporter of the commodity.

A number of profitable cash crops have kept Nigeria on the world map of exports for decades regardless of the country’s neglect of agriculture. Cassava is one of the most notable. Along with sorghum, cotton, rice and cocoa, cassava is one of the crops identified as a prospective foreign exchange earner for the country under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) with Nigeria becoming the largest cassava processor globally.

According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS agricultural survey, 33 states of the Federation are currently cultivating cassava, but with the latest development that could be interpreted as an indication of a lack of value addition of natural resources, Nigeria continues to remain an economic paradox. Blessed with excellent soil for cultivation and agriculture-friendly weather, Nigeria perpetually spends a fortune on food imports, even for finished food products from crops cultivated locally.

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By Sola Ogundipe