The Federal Government is planning to introduce a home grown National Feeding Programme to target the vulnerable segments of Nigeria’s population, and called on all players in the agriculture sector to re-double their efforts to take advantage of this opportunity for massive food production.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh stated this on Thursday, 10th November, 2016 at the Agricultural Value Chain Workshop on Diversifying Nigeria for Export Development, organized by his Ministry, in collaboration with Eurobasegroup Consult Limited in Abuja.
“Our population of over 170 million makes us a huge market. We must not be market for others. We must grow our own food. We must feed ourselves. We must create markets locally and internationally for our farmers, and unlock our enormous potentials in agriculture”, the Minister stated.
Chief Ogbeh opined that the theme of the workshop, “Free Nigeria from Economic Recession within Six Months”, is very topical in the process of shaping a new direction for the agricultural sector in Nigeria which is aimed at achieving the economic diversification of Government, and surmounting present economic recession.
He informed participants at the workshop that the paramount role of agriculture in the nation’s economy is accentuated by the fact that agriculture currently accounts for 22% of the nation’s GDP and 75% share of total non-oil exports. He therefore, charged them to use the opportunity of the workshop to brainstorm and arrive at innovative ideas that will deepen commitment to agriculture as a business, and not as a development programme.
He affirmed that the private sector will remain in the lead, while Government will continue to facilitate and provide supporting infrastructures, systems, control processes and oversight. He added that, “It is in the light of this that my Ministry launched a time-bound aggressive plan to unlock Nigeria’s agricultural potential through the Agriculture Promotion Policy (2016-2020) – The Green Alternative, the purpose of which is to provide a disciplined approach to building a resilient agribusiness ecosystem that will solve the core issues at the heart of limited food production and delivery of quality standards.”
Explaining further, the Minister noted that the Policy intends to unlock the potentials of the agricultural sector through the creation of enhanced opportunities for private sector investment, and ensuring additional steady inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the sector.
The Minister said the value chain approach of integrating efficient primary production with modern processing and facilitation of access to market, with Government providing the enabling environment, policies and incentives for a private sector-led agricultural transformation is geared towards boosting sectoral growth. He also informed that the agricultural insurance market is being restructured to enable greater participation of private sector insurance companies.
He assured the gathering that Government is desirous to take up the gauntlet of growing the economy, achieve food security, reduce poverty level, create employment opportunities and economic empowerment through agriculture. “Our new goal is to attain self-sufficiency in food production and export 10 million MT of grains and processed food annually to the ECOWAS region and beyond by 2019”, the Minister added.
He noted that with the on-going efforts of the current administration, the time has come for Nigeria to achieve its own Green Revolution, just as it was done in Asia when more than one billion people were lifted out of poverty as a result of rapid productivity growth in rice and wheat during the continent’s Green Revolution. Chief Ogbeh added that on-going Government efforts are also geared towards further decline in importation of grains into Nigeria, as well as to minimize post harvest loses.
In his welcome remarks, Managing Director of Eurobasegroup, Mr. Don Ekeobasi stated that the workshop is a pragmatic solution to the dreadful and terrible situation Nigeria finds herself at the moment. He informed that this is the reason his company is presenting six world-leading and successful agro companies to Nigeria and Nigerians for partnership.
He stated further that the world’s commercial agro giants at the workshop have the technologies to turn around the neglected agro value chain of Nigeria within six months, adding that any State, Local Government, commercial or private agro company that adopts and partner with the corporations will be on their way out of recession within a short time. The partnership, according to him, will boost and achieve sustainable economic growth and job creation.
He opined that if Nigerians take agro value chain seriously, Nigeria’s arable land has the capacity to generate $100 billion annually. He also stated that Nigeria can be like Chile and many other countries which survive on agriculture, with huge foreign reserve and favourable balance of trade in their favour, if she adopts and applies the right technology that are shown at the workshop.
The foreign agro companies are Dayu Irrigation Group from China, Johnson Controls from USA, Pentair Aquatic Eco Systems from USA, Good Rain Machineries from China, Jinan from China and Zhong Zhou Poultry from China.