FG To Build Agribusiness Economy For Food Security, Exports, Jobs | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


FG To Build Agribusiness Economy For Food Security, Exports, Jobs

lagos farmers
Posted: Apr 7, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)





Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has unveiled the agricultural road map that would guide the present administration in the development of the sector.

He said the overarching goal is to build an agribusiness economy capable of meeting the country’s domestic food security requirements, generating exports to broaden the national revenue case and supporting sustainable income and job growth potentials through wealth creation, promotion of entrepreneurial activities for fostering youth employment and enhancing national productivity.

Speaking at the National Agricultural Show in Nasarawa State, Ogbeh said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has begun to translate its vision for the revival and transformation of the agricultural sector in Nigeria over the medium term (2016-2020) into a virile engine of growth and accelerated national development through the development of a roadmap for the sector.

Some other key objectives of the roadmap, according to him, include growing the “agriculture sector at between two and four times the size of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within the envisaged period; integrate agricultural commodity chains into the broader supply chain, as a stimulus for driving job growth; increasing the contribution of agriculture to wealth creation and enhancing the capacity of the country to earn foreign exchange from agricultural exports.

Other objectives, he explained include “promoting the responsible use of land, water and other natural resource; facilitating the capacity of government to meet its obligations on food security, food safety and quality nutrition and creating a mechanism for improved governance of agriculture and rural development by all  relevant institutions and key partners in the agricultural sector.”

According to Ogbeh, “Our first priority in terms of quick wins under the roadmap involves taking immediate steps to achieve self-sufficiency in our local staples.

“In this regard, our intention is to achieve self-sufficiency in grains, namely rice, sorghum, maize, millet, wheat within the next 36 months, as well as in milk and meat over the same timeline.

“The second quick win is ensuring improvement in the use of fertilizers for higher crop yields and reduction in food prices, based on a soil map we have produced which we have already distributed to the states and other key stakeholders.

“The essence is to ensure proper use of fertilizers in each state of the federation through a new process that avails each state the kind of fertilizer most appropriate to its soil conditions for agricultural production.

“This will stem the tide of soil damage through inappropriate and random use of fertilizers rather than through proper direction and scientific guide.

“It will also help us to drastically reduce or entirely wipe out the incidence of fertilizer smuggling, while in due course, fertilizer subsidy can be slowly reduced and eventually withdrawn, as farmers become more enlightened in using the right type of fertilizers for the right soils,” he said.

The third quick win, he said, is ensuring improved access to credit and finance for agricultural development.

This, he noted, would entail reducing the current high interest rates by banks, bearing in mind that the current rates constitute a disincentive to agricultural development and agro-enterprises.

He assured that the Federal Government was committed to improving access to agricultural credit and financing through a lower interest regime, and availing farmers the opportunity of leveraging on the special intervention programmes of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in support of agricultural production and agro enterprises.

As part of measures to improve financing in agriculture, Ogbeh said, “We are committed to the reform and reinvigoration of the Bank of Agriculture to enable us have a window to deliver affordable credit in support of agriculture, as obtainable in the rest of the world, where agriculture is given the priority that it deserves as a window of growing national wealth.”

To empower farmers with the current trends in agriculture, the minister said the Federal Government would establish an extension centre in all the 774 local government areas in the country, with varied sizes from states to states.

He said the centres would constitute one-stop shops for farmer education, mobilization of farmers into cooperatives, distribution of agricultural inputs and provision of other related essential support services.

“We shall run them in partnership with the private sector to reduce the burden of management on the government”, he noted.

Ogbeh reiterated the determination of the present administration to restore agriculture and agro-enterprises to their respective domains of pride and importance as key drivers of inclusive growth, shared prosperity and sustainable development in Nigeria.

He contended that Nigeria can no longer afford to neglect agriculture the way the country had done over the past decades, adding that the present hardship confronting the nation is as a result of Nigeria’s over-reliance on oil revenue.

He warned that “no nation can truly boast of being sovereign if she cannot feed her citizens on a sustainable basis.”

“The need to put in place adequate measures for ensuring sustainable food security and the well-being of Nigerians is even more compelling bearing in mind our  anticipated population explosion, in the range of 450 million people by 2050, will effectively place Nigeria as the third most populated country in the world after China and India”, he pointed out.