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THE Nigerian Minister of Rice

By Augustine Togonu-Bickersteth
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The Guardian of March 16 2012 featured a report that informed" Nigeria Spends 1.3tr yearly on Food Imports" but that report was more about Rice. According to the Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture, 356 billion Naira is spent on the importation of Rice yearly

. Citing the Minister,the report also stated that" Government was poised to revive the Agricultural sector with the transformation of Rice Production"

Of recent you find that the Nigerian Ministers of Agriculture are infact Ministers of Rice. But if I may ask do we expect Nigerians to be eating Rice every day of the year?Is this what constitutes a balanced Diet? Once we percieve there is food scarcity in Nigeria we immediately rush to Import Rice. Nigerian have been reduced to Refugees in their own Country if it is indeed true that it is usually Refugees eating the same kind of Food everyday.

In fairness to the Minister he did outline plans for Cassava flour.But can we really say that just eating Rice and Cassava flour products constitute a balanced Diet?

I think the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture should be working in conjuction with the Minister of Health and for reasons of Cognitive development, the Minister of Education, to decide on what and what not to produce.

Unlike in a place like the United Kingdom there is no incentive for Government to take adequate Health care of the People because it is the the lot of the Nigerian People who pay their Medical bills.

In the Uk the Governmen is forever preaching the benefits of,a Balanced Diet including Vegetables , fruits.Nuts and Regular exercise as a way of reducing the pressure on the National Health service(NHS).

On the same day as The Guardian on Food imports, was a report in the Telegraph of UK stating that Harvrad Publich Health School Scientists have found a link between regular consumption of White Rice and Type 2 Diabetes.The Study however just looked at Asia and Western Countries, there was no Data on Africa. Are we ready to conduct our own Study on Diabetes and White Rice in Nigeria? Or as usual we are leaving this to the "white Man"

Lastly,Nigeria launched a Food and Nutrition Policy in 2002 . I hope this has not been abandoned in the filing Cabinets.

By Augustine Togonu-Bickersteth, London,England