Switch from Rice to Potato, Agriculture Minister urges Nigerians

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has urged Nigerians to switch from rice to potato.  Rice is arsenic and being addicted to it carries a lot of health risks,  He said today.

He said that the consumption of rice in the country was rising and that a lot of people are  not aware that the rice has some degree of arsenic.

He spoke today as he bemoaned the pressure on Nigeria’s foreign reserves by businessmen demanding  $2.5 billion dollars (about N492 billion) a week for the importation of goods and services into the country.

The minister said that consuming rice in large quantity on a regular basis was a bit of health risk, adding that substituting it with potato would be welcomed development.

According to a post by US Food and Drug Administration, “Arsenic is an element in the Earth’s crust, and is present in water, air, and soil.

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“It exists in two forms, with the inorganic form considered to be the more toxic. The FDA has been monitoring the levels of arsenic in foods for decades and in 2011, after new methods to differentiate the forms of arsenic became available, the agency expanded its testing to help better understand and manage possible arsenic-related risks associated with food consumption in the United States.

“Rice has higher levels of inorganic arsenic than other foods, in part because as rice plants grow, the plant and grain tend to absorb arsenic more readily than other food crops. In April 2016, the FDA proposed an action level, or limit, of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal.

“This level, which is based on the FDA’s assessment of a large body of scientific information, seeks to reduce infant exposure to inorganic arsenic. The agency also has developed advice on rice consumption for pregnant women and the caregivers of infants.” (Read More:FDA Report)

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Nigeria’s addiction to rice is legendary and worrisome to policy makers.

Last year, $1.8billion was spent in importing rice and Audu Ogbeh’s message today is that the money is no longer available. Hence his cry that Nigerians change their palate to love potato.

Said Ogbeh: “The volume of importation of virtually everything into this country is too much. The demand for dollars in this country as at today is 2.5 billion a week; this is the quantum of dollars Nigerians are asking for to import things.

“Since 1986, we began this habit of importing everything and doing virtually nothing at home to sustain ourselves; now, we do not have the dollars and people are very hungry,” he added.



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