The Federal Government in collaboration with other policy makers and international agencies is determined to implement attractive agricultural policies that will entice and engage Nigerian youths to farming.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, implored Nigerian youths to return to commercial/mechanised agriculture in order to curb the looming hunger in the country.
He said: “Nigeria will have a bleak future in terms of food if we do not plan now. Nigeria consumes seven million tons of rice annually and the fact that we largely depend on other countries like Thailand and Malaysia for this quantity of rice is of great concern, so we are introducing mechanised agriculture to encourage our youths.”
Chief Ogbeh made the call while delivering a keynote address at the official launch of the First conference of the “Feed the Future Nigeria Agriculture Policy Project,” a five year, $12.5 million initiative. It is a joint effort between Michigan State University (MSU) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Nigeria Strategy Support programme (NSSP) funded by USAID-Nigeria.
The Minister decried the fact that agriculture has been neglected in the past thirty years due to the discovery and reliance on oil for our revenue.
According to him, the need for us to attain food sufficiency is not only for Nigeria but also for neighboring countries like Chad, Niger, Sudan and Mali who depend on us for food.
Chief Ogbeh called for the development and use of improved seed varieties in order to attain increase in yield per hectare. He announced that special fertilisers have been developed to suit different soil types in the country.
He also said that lakes and dams are being built in states to make it possible for an all year round farming to take place.
In a goodwill message at the event, the Mission Director USAID, Mr Michael Harvey, said that he was pleased with the priority given to agriculture by the present administration with the production of the ‘Green Alternative’ agriculture policy document. He however said he was struck with the remarkable underdevelopment in the Nigerian agricultural sector, adding that Nigeria would not be capable of leading Africa if it did not have food security and therefore called for the implementation of the project with urgency.
The goal of the ‘Feed the Future Project’ is to promote inclusive agricultural productivity growth, improved nutritional outcomes, enhanced livelihood resilience for men and women through an improved policy enabling environment.