The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has pledged the federal government’s support of local food producers to meet the growing challenge of feeding the nation.

Ogbeh gave the assurance in Lagos after his familiarisation visit to the production facilities of Sympli, pioneers of Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) fruits and vegetables in Nigeria.

The IQF technology helps to deliver farm-fresh products in ready-to-cook state through a process that involves peeling, chopping and fresh-freezing local foods and vegetables to retain all the flavour, texture and natural goodness of the foods. This not only reduces food preparation time by at least 40per cent, it also reduces post-harvest loss of foods and vegetables by about 40 per cent.

The minister noted that value addition in the agricultural sector, as exemplified by Sympli, would help to meet the challenge of feeding the people, which has been exacerbated by the country’s ‘exploding population.’

“I am very happy to see this type of innovative thinking in Nigeria; what Sympli is doing is revolutionary and this kind of value addition is exactly what we need at a time that government is working seriously at addressing the food issue in the country,” Ogbeh said.

While acknowledging inadequate financing, high interest rates, constant power outages and double taxation as some of several challenges that beset food producers in Nigeria, Ogbeh commended the long-term commitment of the PRIMLAKS Group, producers of the Sympli brand, to creating value in the food chain, saying: “We are very happy with what we have seen here and really congratulate PRIMLAKS Group for their many years of resilience and commitment to Nigeria’s growth.

We pledge our support as a government because what they are doing is what we want to see,” adding, “We shall intensify efforts at supporting local food producers and we are hoping that we can keep the interest rates low in the Bank of Agriculture, which we are restructuring.”

He lauded Sympli as an ‘innovative contribution’ to encourage the consumption of Nigerian foods at home and in the Diaspora and enjoined consumers to patronise the products.
“I like the taste of this, it’s still fresh; I’m sure all Nigerians will be excited about Sympli. The convenience is necessary as people get very busy. Keep working at it; we’ll give you our support and we’ll use the Diaspora Office to see how we can propagate this.”

While conducting the Agric Minister round the Sympli plant, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ravi Hemnani, said: “Our goal is to make it easier than ever to cook family favourites and we are getting very positive responses from our customers, both here in Nigeria and in the UK.”

The Sympli line comprises a range of products, including yams, plantains, and chillies. Sympli is available at Shoprite, Spar, and The Fish Shop in Nigeria and at Tesco, ASDA and Morrison’s in the UK, along with independent stores in both countries.