Agriculture is the Solution to Nigeria’s Economic Downturn —Obasanjo

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Former president Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take seriously the diversification efforts of his government from oil to agriculture, in the process of bailing the country out of its current economic downturn.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo

Obasanjo also charged all Nigerians to embrace agribusiness, saying as a former President he was proud to be seen and identified as a farmer because of the gains accruable from such ventures; and also described agriculture as the solution to the present economic situation in the country. The former president made the remarks while delivering the maiden Eminent Persons Business Lecture, titled ‘Agribusiness: Time to Act is Now’ organised by the University of Ibadan School of Business in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

He said the fall in prices of oil at the world market which may be a blessing in disguise has contributed to economic hardship, and collapse in businesses. He added that to overcome these challenges, all hands must be on deck to practically embrace agriculture and not just on papers.
While highlighting the importance of agriculture in the areas of economic growth, development and wealth creation, the former President maintained that agri-business has potentials to stimulate industrialisation; generate employment and engender economic growth.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo
Speaking on how to practically make agriculture a major source of revenue in view of the need to diversify the economy, Obasanjo said if the present government is truly determined to diversify the economy through agriculture, attention must be given to the sector at the high level of government, to incorporate all departments, ministries and agencies of government in the agricultural sector and not just the ministry of agriculture alone, in order to make Nigeria a truly economically viable nation.
He canvassed for adequate infrastructure for storage and transportation of agricultural produce. On the involvement of youths and the unemployed in the agriculture business, the former President noted that “Agri-business must be attractive to youths and students should be encouraged.
He said “We have to glamorise agri-business and that is why I say wherever I go I call myself a farmer. If a former President can call himself a farmer why can’t we call ourselves farmers?”
Adequate support must be given to agriculture to search for innovation, we must give incentives to farmers, he noted, adding that “there must be consistency in government policy formulation and we must also ensure its sustainability”.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo
The former President who concluded that the individuals and private sector cannot succeed in agriculture without government support therefore solicited full support of government at all levels for Nigerians to practically embrace and encourage going into full scale agriculture.
“Your Excellencies and Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude that while agri-business cannot be practiced without government support, a good policy must be put in place to support and encourage agriculture.”
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, represented by the state commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Prince Oyewole Oyewumi maintained that the lecture was timely in view of the state government’s efforts to diversify its economy through agriculture.