Dr. Tony Bello, a food scientist and Chairman of Shine Bridge Global, a U.S.-based food technology company, has called upon the Federal Government to leverage the expertise of food technocrats within the Nigerian diaspora.
He believes this collaboration can significantly enhance the growth of the country's consumer packaged food sector.
Bello emphasized the need to reverse the brain drain phenomenon by actively involving skilled diaspora professionals in the food industry, specifically those with proven track records. He noted that the engagement of professionals from the diaspora, particularly in the food industry, would set a positive tone for the administration.
Drawing from his extensive experience working for companies like PepsiCo Frito Lay, the Kellogg Company, and the Heinz Frozen Foods, Bello stressed the importance of bringing back talented Nigerians who have excelled in the food industry abroad.
He recommended that the government prioritize research and development innovation, harnessing established food science and technologies to transform staple foods into fast-moving consumer products. This approach can provide essential energy, nutrition, and micronutrients crucial for health and wellness.
Bello highlighted Nigeria's vast potential in the processed cassava market, estimating that proper exploitation could generate approximately $10 billion in revenue. He emphasized the need for fiscal and monetary policies that encourage private sector engagement to unlock the processed cassava sector's potential.
The expert also discussed his collaboration with a Madagascan company to secure 3,000 metric tonnes of High-Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) for export purposes, further showcasing Nigeria's potential in the cassava sub-sector.
Bello envisioned the transformation of cassava flour into instant tapioca flakes, opening up opportunities in various consumer packaged foods, including baby foods, baked goods, bakery mixes, and 'fufu' mixes.
He identified infrastructure, financing, youth engagement, and raw material availability as key challenges in Nigeria's agricultural growth and urged the federal government to revitalize the commercial agriculture sector.
Bello called for a shift in mindset among policymakers, emphasizing the need to view agriculture as a viable business opportunity rather than merely a means to alleviate poverty.