Our population is a huge market for Agriculture – Osinbajo
… Says mechanised farming in Nigeria starting this year
Nigerian’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has reiterated the fact that our huge population is a great advantage to leverage on as a nation as we diversify into agriculture while giving the assurance of the readiness of the Federal Government to commence mechanised farming in the country this year.
He made this known in his keynote address at the 4th National Discourse, organised by The Companion (an Association of Muslim Men in Business and the Professions) in Lagos.
According to him, Nigeria is witnessing tremendous growth in the agricultural sector since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office.
Prof. Osinbajo revealed that the Federal Government has also partnered with the Brazilian government on industrial mechanised farming with an investment worth 1billion US Dollars.
He said that six Tractors’ Assembly Plants will be established in six geo-political zones of the country with 5,000 tractors to be assembled this year.
“Service Centres will also be established in all the states of the federation including the federal capital territory. This will afford us the opportunity of producing our own fertiliser, improved seedlings and other inputs through rentage.”
He stated that self-sufficiency in food production is a priority to the present administration. “Our able President believes that we must produce what we eat and that’s exactly what we are working towards.”
Prof. Osinbajo also made it known that there will be 109 Product Service Centres in all the Senatorial districts in the country with processing of farm produce and haulage to markets from designated aggregation points.
In addition, the Vice President noted that our population is a huge market which we need to take full advantage of. “We need to also take advantage of our arable land and huge local market.”
“The focus of this administration is to achieve food self-sufficiency and we have been working towards achieving this through improved budgetary allocations.
“Self sufficiency in food production has been the major pillar of our administration’s economic policy, President Muhamadu Buhari actually set a clear direction on the issue of self sufficiency in food production. When he said that we must produce what we eat and we must consume what we produce. And we backed that with substantial budgetary allocation to agriculture. In 2015, it was N8. 8 billion but by 2016 we moved up to N42.6 billion and by 2018, a N120.38 billion was allocated to agriculture.
Osinbajo also called on the state governments across the federation to contribute their quota in assisting the Federal Government’s agricultural initiative.
He also appealed to the states to invest in agriculture in the way or even more than the way the Federal Government is driving agriculture in order to achieve food self-sufficiency.
According to him, Nigerian agricultural sector’s performance grew by 14.27% in 2018.
Speaking further, Osinbajo stated that 720,000 small farm holders have received N120.6 billion credit facilities through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
According to him, the credit is given directly to smallholder farmers, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and 13 participating banks.
“The farmers are into twelve commodities including rice, wheat, cotton, Soya beans, Cassava, poultry and groundnuts, across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The anchor borrowers’ programme is now digitalized.”
“With all farmlands’ GPRS mapped, biometric data of farmers captured, electronic cards issued and specific inputs recorded. This has enhanced traceability, productivity and yield,” he explained.
In addition, Osinbajo said that the government has launched a fertilizer programme to improve local blending capacity in collaboration with Morocco, adding “today we have 11 Fertilizer Blending plants with a capacity of 2.1million. Fertilizer price has since dropped from N13,000 per 50kg to N 5,500 and N6000.
Osinbajo commended The Companion for choosing a very relevant and important theme aimed at sustainable economic growth.
Also speaking on the theme of the discourse, “Food Security: Unleashing Nigeria’s Natural Potential for Self Sufficiency”, the Guest Speaker, President, Nigerian Academy of Engineering, Prof. Fola Lasisi advised the states and Federal Government to maximize agricultural growth through technology.
The chairman of the occasion, former Governor of the state of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola urged all stakeholders to up their activities regarding agriculture because the country’s productivity in agriculture and other sectors is abysmally low.
According to Aregbesola, we need more commitment in agriculture because hunger breeds frustration, aggression and anger which subsequently fuels insecurity.
“Our economy has not grown in proportionate to our population. Getting high yielding crops will also help a lot while having varieties of our indigenous farm produce will reduce the appetite for imported foods.”
National Amir of The Companion, Alhaji Thabit Wale Sonaike commended the current administration in its efforts geared towards revamping agriculture stating readiness of The Companion in supporting the states and Federal Government towards achieving good governance.
Awards of recognition were given to the Vice President and Ogbeni Aregbesola.
The occasion also had in attendance, Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, Ogun State’s deputy governor, Mrs Noimot Salako-Oyedele; Prof. Lateef Sanni, deputy vice chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta; Otunba Femi Oke, chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Southwest; Barrister Musbaudeen Oyefeso, Alhaji Tunde Popoola, Alhaji Salis Shuaib, Alhaji Lere Alimi, Alhaji Nojeem Jimoh, Dr. Lukman AbdulRaheem among other dignitaries.