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Kunbi Dixon: We All Need to Play Our Part to save Our Economy! Buy Local, Eat Local

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dreamstime_m_52351002So, the Dollar is now hovering around 420 Naira and the pound, N530!

I do not pretend to be an authority on the Economy, but as a passionate Nigerian, I can say WE (government included) all are the reason why the forex costs this much.

Let’s put aside some of the reasons we demand so much foreign currency in Nigeria. We have crude oil but sell it internationally, while importing the end products (that’s like having a palm kernel tree in your compound while ordering banga for your one akwu from overseas).

There’s also the case of Nigerians getting an education overseas because the quality of education in Nigeria is believed to be substandard and not globally competitive.

We have an appetite for all things foreign; clothes, shoes etc, going to India, America for medical treatment, holidaying in Seychelles, the Maldives over Akodo or Badagry etc.

Now I do not blame people who fall into the categories stated above; how, and on what, a person spends their earnings is personal and very subjective. However, I write this article in a bid to appeal to as many people as possible on the benefits of promoting PRODUCED in Nigeria goods and foodstuff.

Let me share a fun but serious fact. All the APC “Change” brooms were imported from other West African countries and not sourced locally. Even the many PDP umbrellas were imported from China. I wish I had verifiable data on how much the Asian markets grew as a result of the tee shirts, wrappers, kerosene stoves and the myriad of souvenirs procured by the political parties during last year’s election.

Why are we helping every other countries economy and killing ours? We import frozen chicken and even garri from Cotonou! Why do the foreign brands get better concession than homegrown brands such as Ebeano Supermarket, Ouch, Tinubu and Aba market tailors and cobblers etc?

There was a time when imported rice was a delicacy that was enjoyed only on Sunday afternoon or when you went to parties and the locally grown rice was handpicked at home and enjoyed more regularly. Now, imported rice is the most commonly eaten staple in Nigeria. When clueless about an appropriate gift to give a benefactor, we just send them bags of imported rice.
According to Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, Nigeria imports $1trillion worth of foodstuff annually. Think of this $1tr as our investment with no returns in China, Cotonou, South Africa and a few other countries. Think about how much we could have ploughed back into the economy – if we enabled our farmers and bought even just half of it from local farmers in Nigeria. The average farmer will not make his money and repatriate it overseas; he’ll put it back into this economy and more people will benefit from it.

Nigerians, do you realise that every time you take your money and purchase that imported cereal or detergent, you are helping to grow the foreign country and not yours? Agreed, the quality of the locally produced say cornflakes can’t be compared to the foreign one, but do you know that you can demand the quality you desire from Nasco and the likes if you paid right. If Nasco earned the same 1,500 that you spent on that imported cornflakes, don’t you think they will be in a position to deliver the same quality or even better? It will be sad if Nasco goes moribund as the Vegfru Company in Gombe did.

Do you know that by buying local produce, even Boko Horam and the Niger Delta militants might drop the arms and go into farming? #possibilitiesareendless #youneverknow

Now I’m not saying don’t buy imported, all I’m saying is if there’s a local substitute, PLEASE go for it. Your constant demand for local produce will help the economy and improve everybody’s purchasing power.

There are so many dairy farms in the North, yet we buy imported yoghurt. Can our dairy farms not cater to our yoghurt needs and a portion of our milk and cheese needs? So you like peaches in your Yoghurt, can we please attempt to cultivate the peaches in Cross River or Jos? If not, by all means let’s import the peaches from abroad. The honey from Kaduna is darker and has more sediments than the oboe oyinbo one; can we teach the farmers ways to filter and remove the sediments and bottle it in mason jars and not plastic? This way, it can appeal to Nigerians with refined tastes and an eye for imported packaging.

Why are we allowing the foreign supermarket chains sell and we buy frozen French fries, frozen vegetables that have flown days and weeks to get to us. Can Plateau and Makurdi not meet that need, even 50%? Are FIRO and IITA not able to get us the variety that freezes well? By the way, yet another fact, Nigeria imports over N60b worth of French Fries annually!

This is the time to get the rails working.
This is the time to build that tree that will give shade to future generations.
This is the time to engage the over 3000 people who have lost their jobs in banking, aviation, the hundreds of thousands of youth who are unemployed.
This is the time for citizens to go into agriculture, this is the time for government to give citizens reasonable concessions and incentives to farmers producing for the domestic market by making subsidies, land, tractors, seedlings, cooling vans, storage facilities, grants etc This is the time to enable them produce for the nation.

A large portion of our 160 million people need to be employed and feed; every farmer can decide to target 100,000 people. This dependence on foreign goods has to be brought to a minimum!

Permit me to digress. A few months back Kenya destroyed a very large stock pile of ivory that were seized from poachers over the years. President Kenyatta said people had advised that instead of burning the Ivory in his bid to deter poachers, Kenya should have sold the tusks and developed herself from the proceeds. I personally think he made a good decision by burning the Ivory because when every ivory producing animal has been killed, what will happen to Kenya’s tourism industry. And that is why we as Nigerians must think of the long term impact of our actions.
Let government pass and ENFORCE the laws that mandates only items which cannot grow in Nigeria be imported. Let citizens boycott foreign ingredients that can be produced and stocked locally. Let government give incentives to citizens who own farms that cater to the local market.

We cannot control, or influence the looters of the national treasury who steal our monies and keep them in overseas accounts – inadvertently developing the overseas countries with their deposits; but, we can ensure that our personal hard-earned monies are kept in the system to improve our lives as citizens. This starts with buying as local as possible.

The change we are looking for starts with us as individuals (paraphrasing Gandhi). Let’s not wait for the Dollar to hit 1,000 Naira before we start doing things right. Let us make Nigeria great again.

Buy local. Eat Local!

Photo CreditKiosea39 | Dreamstime.com

Kunbi Dixon is the winner of Knorr Taste Quest season 2 and is passionate about Local Produce, Food Security and Sustainability, Employment and Citizens Empowerment.

29 Comments

  1. LL

    September 8, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Well written, articulate with facts and figures. Even if nothing makes us consider buying Nigerian , the high cost of the imported goods should. Peanut butter at N1300 for an average sized jar? Time to rethink my people.

  2. Bodunade

    September 8, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Tosin, say something 🙂

    • Bodunade

      September 8, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Bodunade gerrarahere Mehn shiii

    • EE

      September 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      ^ ?
      So confusing when people randomly attack themselves.

  3. Grace

    September 8, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    My sister well said o. The way things are going now, we sure need a permanent solution. Like you said,our rails needs to be back in track, roads leading to and from where these farms are,need to be accessible.

    Buy Local,Eat Local.

  4. angie

    September 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    God bless you for this article. The recent trend among we so called middle class Nigerians is getting so disgusting..you will hear some people saying they can only use sanitary pad from abroad (it irritates me more when they have to add to your kilo with such frivolous requests). I was discussing with a friend just recently and she was telling me to introduce oats to my baby but not d “yeye local ones o”. I had to scream at her that she was the one spoiling the economy. We are really getting what we deserve…oju wa ma to ja

  5. EE

    September 8, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Great sentiment……but…… per the guy in charge of determining the amount of things we export and import, the majority of our imports are machinery, mineral products (I’m guessing refined crude), chemicals and base metals. https://twitter.com/sgyemikale/media

    These are all necessary things which aren’t/can’t be made locally at short notice and without forex. So even if we all (impossible) bought our yoghurts, corn, vegetables, meat e.t.c locally it wouldn’t make a difference.

    Ironically since local producers won’t be expecting increased demand, the laws of demand and supply will drive up costs.

    Sorry for being Debbie Downer. Bright side, our exports are cheaper and the more we export, it’ll drive the exchange rate lower. Just have to start exporting.

  6. Bodunade

    September 8, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Yes!!

    We know the problems and the solution, you have said it all but the political elites will never let it happen. Their power comes from our poverty and anarchy in all aspects, economic, religious and all what not.

    Until the cost of corruption in Nigeria outweighs it’s benefits, it’s one step forward two steps back. If I steal 20billion the chances of me getting commensurate punishment is between zero and zero. A slap on the wrist at worst.

    Poor standards, overcharging and generally holding people to ransom if power of production is in our hands AkA taking advantage especially when they know there are no substitutes are among the reasons…. Okay, I have said enough. Who talk Epp??

  7. tunmi

    September 8, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    You’ve so spoken. But this does not need government intervention at all, mba! All it needs is us, the average Nigerian. Honestly! And I truly believe this is where nollywood can really, really help. Radio, tv, and web programs can help focus on nigerian products. For example, korean dramas always have elements of their products in their shows – product placement and whatnot. (now don’t watch it on an empty stomach). The pride in their foods: it’s always korean beef, always soju (never ciroc), always something that is theirs (no iphones, na samsung). Those type of subliminal and in-your-face messages go a long way.

    I really must applaud the way you wrote. An average person can understand, it is at an appropriate reading level, and you include facts.

    BN Suggestion: Could we get more writing submissions from Nigerian students across educational levels: primary, secondary, uni, technical school, etc? I don’t know how it will be done, maybe some partnership with schools and professors, but it would be a great idea, no?

  8. Toluwalope

    September 8, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Abeg joor….
    Change should start from the government officials…
    1. Withdraw all their children in foreign universities back to either Federal universities or state universities.
    2. They should stop driving benze, peoguet etc and use only Innoson
    3. Buy local wrist watches
    4. No more foreign trips or training etc
    5. Fly local airline
    6. No more Jerusalem or Hajj sponsorship
    7. No more foreign hospital treatment for any of them.
    They should stop imposing what they’re not practically honest with on the masses ….ordinary hear infection, that joker traveled out for treatment o.
    Fools.

    • Pompey

      September 8, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Are there local watches?

      I really would like to know, because I was thinking seriously about this a few days back. It will be nice to have a proper made in Nigeria watch.

      As for Nasco, please let’s not go there. That thing is vile! I’ll rather enjoy my Golden Morn quietly. I don’t know why them Nasco manufacturers just refuse to improve on the harsh texture and taste. Ugh!

    • Femi

      September 8, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      I think your sentiment would be shared by all Nigerians. But as much I would agree, I believe one of the problems of Nigeria is our tendency to favour the impossible over the attainable. It is easier to change our habits than to change our leaders. We have been on this envelope pushing, blame shifting merry go round too long. It’s time to favour the possible over the unattainable. Let’s change our buying patterns.

      The impact will be tremendous. Our leaders who try to Lord their wrist watch superiority over us. Would suddenly find they have no constituency.

      This is an excellent article and I am going to put it into practice.

    • tunmi

      September 8, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      True

  9. Gbemi

    September 8, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Just thinking , we keep talking about corrupt politicians,if the other 90percent of the population that are not politicians are not corrupt don’t we think things would be better ? Imagine 90percent of the population eat ofada rice , do you think anyone would import rice?

    • Mz_Danielz

      September 8, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      Do not deceive yourself oh. One bad egg can spoil the crate especially when the bad eggs are the powerful ones

  10. Funmi

    September 8, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Kunbi Dixon……May God bless you and yours

  11. Ona

    September 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Kudos Ms Dixon! Well articulated and such an easy read for such a painful topic. Unfortunately, as the days go by and more theatrics from the government unfold, the little hope I once had for my country ebbs away. I believe everything you have said but I’ve lost hope of seeing it happen.
    But like we are wont to say, it is well.

  12. Presh

    September 8, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Buy local eat local my foot,are there enough chicken or rice produced in this country to feed us all. If the schools were good will people be going abroad. It’s a lot of fund and effort to manufacture anything in this country . No light, water, security, raw material , isn’t dangote truck killing people on our roads on a daily basis. Our leaders steal from us and invest and buy properties in other countries. There is really little or nothing an individual will do in this country . Thanks to our greedy politicians. For me I have given up. I can’t keep hoping abeg.

  13. mrs chudukane

    September 8, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Very easy to say. We need the government at every level to properly harness the potentials of their constituency. It is extremely difficult to do business in Nigeria. In fact, it is far easier to import than produce locally. Just go and read the agriculture thread on nairaland. Poor power supply, bribe seeking government officials, bad roads, lack of power supply, insufficient funds to really step up production and so on really militate against Nigerian businesses. It will take a lot kf work to get things up and running. All hands need to be on deck but unfortunately our government seems to be paying lip service as usual.

  14. Omo-Iya

    September 8, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Funny thing is us folks abroad, at least myself, yearns for that delicious tasting organic awesomeness that’s produced back home. Not the GMO, hormone infested crap that sells in the US. In order to get decent produce one has to pay an arm and a leg at whole foods. Wish the government can at least communicate as clear and poignant as this Sister does.

    • Lacey

      September 8, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      Kudos to Kunbi for this write up!if I was living in Nigeria right now,I would never go on foreign trips except a necessity trip for my job which would be fully funded by my work place!no time to be converting valueless Naira to $,€$£!
      @Omo-Iya even the Whole foods is not so whole sef! People that have 1st class organic food will be looking to still carry their valueless Naira to exchange for canned poison!

  15. Jamce

    September 8, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    @Kunbi, God will add more anointing to your already good head. You are blessed.

  16. Anonymous

    September 8, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    I will advice that we also reduce our rate of consumption on wheat and semo. You are not growing the Naira. Infact for the same f health claim they try to sell to you, I will recommend you try plantain flour- it’s low in carbohydrate, helps with weight loss and very very light makes it easy to digest.

    And for the rest of us with no excuses at all, please eat the following in little quantity with delicious mouth water ting soup. Eba ( white, red, orange, sour, etc), Pounded yam, ( white, yellow, mixed with Eba,etc, cassava flour, yam flour, etc etc.

    Not only does the money remain with us via a vis feeding our selves. we also help Strengthen the Naira, create jobs ( crop production, processing and storage, advertisement, marketing, branding, retail, product development etc), add to GDP, etc etc

  17. Nicky

    September 9, 2016 at 2:07 am

    Chai …every morning I pray fervently for Nigeria to get better..few days ago was discussing with a friend about coming home for NYSC after my masters (living my descent job in Asia as current bsc holder that pay 300 000 per month with trips)and I heard the story of my life,he went on and on how bad the economy has turned,why it isn’t a good idea for now…what is our country turning into.???.pls folks the same way u pray for your needs with passion pls do the same for Nigeria …God loves Nigeria and he has not given up on us yet..

  18. nnenne

    September 9, 2016 at 11:41 am

    …And our president goes abroad to patronize their medical care, while all APC members pay him visits with our dwindling foreign exchange?

  19. Nne

    September 10, 2016 at 1:30 am

    You hit the nail on the head. Kunbi you suppose don marry o, between when you won Knorr Taste Quest and now, your last name suppose don change. Biko you be fine girl, no use man pose abeg. Time no dey wait.

  20. Chinelo

    September 10, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Can’t be written any better…. Change starts with us

  21. Ebika

    September 15, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    So true! But we are so used to using everything imported that one wonders how that can change. My thinking? Start small. Just ensure some essential commodity you use is locally made.

  22. Muyiwa Tijani

    September 23, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Nice write up Kunbi, I suppose we need to take this awareness beyond newspaper columns. Perhaps, road shows and processions in collaboration with media houses. I promise to do my part!

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