This article First appeared on Premium Times

Nigeria’s continued neglect of its agriculture sector is costing a loss of about $10 billion to its economy every year, the World Bank has said.

A Senior Agricultural Economist with the World Bank, Adetunji Oredipe, described the country’s neglect of agriculture as a calamity and disaster.

Mr Oredipe was speaking at the Sterling Bank Plc’s agriculture summit in Abuja on Thursday.

Rather than focusing all its attention on the revenue from crude oil exports, the specialist urged government at all levels to diversify the country’s economic base by investing in the development of the country’s agricultural sector.

“If Nigeria had held to its market share in palm oil, cocoa, groundnut and cotton, its earnings from these commodities would today build up to at least $10 billion per year,” he said.

The result of the continued neglect of its agricultural sector where the country has a comparative advantage, Mr Oredipe said, is why Nigeria is now one of the largest food importers in the world.

“In 2016 alone, Nigeria spent about $965 million on the importation of wheat, $39.7 million to import rice and $100.2 million on sugar imports. The decision to spend $655 million on fish importation seems financially indiscreet given all the marine resources, rivers, lakes, and creeks in Nigeria,” Mr Oredipe said.

“None of the above transactions is fiscally, economically, or politically sustainable,” he added.

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