Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, says some countries asked Nigeria to supply them food during the COVID-19 lockdown measures.

Speaking during an Instagram live chat with City People Magazine on Saturday, Fashola said President Muhammadu Buhari told the countries to wait because Nigerians must be well-fed first.

He said the countries, which he did not mention, made the requests because of the success of the agriculture programme of the federal government.

“Agriculture is another critical part of the Economic Sustainability Plan. We want to increase the cultivatable lands in the country,” Fashola said.

“We are currently cultivating just about one-third and I stand to be corrected on that figure. The minister of agriculture knows the numbers than I do. But in his presentation, as I recollect it, we are not cultivating enough lands. We want to double cultivation, increase food output, not just for local use but for export.

“I must say to Nigerians that because of the success of the agriculture programme which is still evolving, during this COVID exercise, many countries were writing to us from near and far, asking us to please supply them food. This is not in the public space but President Buhari’s priority was, tell them to wait, we must feed our people first before we send out food, we don’t know when this is going to end.

“So, we want to see more value-added in the sector in terms of processing and cultivation. We are losing an unsatisfactory quantity of our agro produce to many factors: transport, cooling, heating and so on. These are some of the components that the Ministry of Agriculture will share in the next few months about how to ensure that we preserve many more of what we produce and lose less.”