The Honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke has said that Nigeria has transformed from just growing and putting food on the table for families to making food a big business and that Nigerians must realise that food has become an enterprise.

Duke stated this, Tuesday, 24th June, 2014 while declaring open the Nigerian Food and Cultural Fair organised by the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

According to him, the Federal Government, led by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has become a global leader in the advocacy for the development of agriculture, not only to nourish Africa or Nigeria, but has also identified and strongly advocated that agriculture is where the country must focus attention.

Duke, who said a nation that is unable to feed itself can only be a perpetual beggarly nation, maintained that as critical stakeholders who transform food from its raw form into something that can be consumed by human beings, Nigerians must also understand that there was a great revolution going on in the sector and as critical stakeholders, the country must move with the times.

“Today, we find that many countries across the world have used their food culture to extend their influence which we don’t need to look too far. There is nowhere in the world today that you will go to and not find a Chinese Restaurant unless there is something wrong in that place. Across the capitals of the world today, the Italians and the Indians have exported their food all over and are using it as a tool of cultural diplomacy and extension of influence.

“You will also find out that the influence of Americans have developed what they call Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), where you just pop in and pop out. You don’t know how the food is cooked; you don’t know what it tastes like; you don’t know what the ingredients are but it is there; you point at it, they serve it to you and you are on the move; that is what we popularly refer to as the fast food.”

Continuing, the Minister said the McDonalds, Ken Turkey Fried Chickens, and Burgher Huts, amongst others, have extended their influence all over the world and are seen today as huge enterprises which informs why today, the Americans go round the world selling franchises.

He however, commended Nigerians for the love they have for their foods, saying, “One exciting thing is the fact that Nigerians love their food. Today, we have started to spread the Nigerian food across the world. There is hardly anywhere that you go to in the world that you don’t find a Nigerian and I am so proud of Nigerians that when they leave this country and spend two or three days in any other country, they are looking for Nigerian food because they cannot survive with anything else and we say that food is enterprise.”

Njideka Dimgba

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja