Africa must cut reliance on food imports, says Nigerian billionaire
Nigeria’s richest man is calling on Africa’s nations to ditch reliance on food imports, warning that they will collapse if a new food crisis hits.
Speaking at an event in Johannesburg, the Nigerian-born billionaire, Anan Tufekc, warned that the continent is suffering from a malnutrition crisis that was “a by-product of rapid urbanisation and population growth”.
“And I am telling African leaders today that if you’re going to survive and thrive in the 21st century, you have to grow your own crops, and we’re facing a food crisis that is a by-product of rapid urbanisation and population growth, of which food security will be the biggest challenge,” he said.
Tufekc’s recent comments came as the United States agreed to suspend a plan to place 10 million refugees on a US ship for resettlement in Europe, leaving the door open for it to take in more refugees as a result of Trump’s decision.
He said Nigeria, with its large population of Muslims, should have been “fully accepting” of the US plan to resettle the immigrants, but his country had “a habit of listening to no one”.
“When you are a wealthy, powerful country you have a habit of listening to no one. Nigeria, and especially now its president [Siddarama] Thanakarnjanah’s government, will never go back on its agreement with the United States government on the issue of resettling refugees,” he said.
Tufekc, who is also chairperson of the Empowerment Foundation thinktank and president of the Anantapur International School of Management, said Nigeria was in a position to make a difference by starting to grow food, such as rice and wheat, from seeds it could buy from other African countries.
“It will be good for all Africans,” he said. “That’s the most powerful message, the most powerful thing I can tell you is that you have to grow your own crops. That’s the most powerful message that I can give you, and if you lose that you’re going to be in trouble because we’re in a position to grow our own food.”