Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with an output of 45 million metric tons every year but with the way things are going, Nigerians seem not to realize the value of what they have as clear indications have emerged that Indians have started importing Garri into the country
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh had last year stated that more than 35 improved varieties of cassava had been developed and registered in Nigeria.
So why then will Nigeria welcome the idea of importing same product which that would have been comfortably processed and rather exported to other countries?
The fact remains that Nigerians have a funny penchant for goods produced outside the shores of the country notwithstanding if they are substandard, and pose obvious threats to their health and general well being.
A young Nigerian lady raised an alarm after she discovered some well packaged packs of processed cassava being sold at a Supermarket in Ikoyi, Lagos State.
The garri is packed in a 500g bag, which has the picture of a lady and an inscription, ‘TRS’ (Asia’s Finest Foods) on it, with a price tag of N450.
The discovery sparked serious outrage among many Nigerians with most of them wondering how on earth we should allow other countries to import garri into our own marker when it should actually have been the other way round.
Economic recession has eaten so deeply into the fabrics of the nation and at this time, agricultural sector needs to be seriously encouraged in order to generate revenue that will possibly help inject some money into the economy to get it running.
But the importation of garri from India spells obvious doom not just for the farmers and the agricultural sector, but for the country at large.
Most states in the country are known for processing cassava into garri and the good part is that it doesn’t necessarily require a lot to know how to do it.
There was a ban on importation of cassava flour in 2012, but the ban was eventually lifted and a duty fee of 50 percent was imposed on cassava products importation. Perhaps the lift on the ban encouraged foreigners to maximize the opportunity and import Garri into the country which we locally produce surplus and would have generated much revenue from.
A handful of people heaped a large chunk of the blame on the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) accusing them of encouraging the importation of substandard products by making the process of getting an approval difficult for local manufacturers.
Although it was discovered that the particular product in question doesn’t even have a NAFDAC number.
If the constituted authorities are contradicting the #BuyNaijatogrowthenaira campaign, how then do they want to encourage citizens to really patronize local products which is what the campaign is all about?
Even though the attention of the minister of health Professor Isaac Adewole has been called to the situation and some necessary measures already taken, it is not just enough to confiscate the products, they should try as much to fish out the officials of the regulatory agencies under whose watch the product passed through before finally arriving local markets.
Bribery has become a serious call for concern and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that some corrupt officers were bribed to pass the packaged garri through and selfishness wouldn’t allow them give a thought about the negative effects of the unlicensed product not just to the health of unsuspecting consumers but also to the battered economy.
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