The federal government has advised all states across the federation to use agriculture as leverage for the revival of the nation’s economy post-COVID-19.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Ikanade Agba spoke Wednesday, at a Community of Practice, CoP, meeting, for all state Commissioners for budget and economic planning in Jalingo, Taraba state capital.
Speaking of the theme, ‘Beyond Oil: Optimizing agro-value chain for economic prosperity at the national and subnational levels’, the minister explained that the dwindling oil price has grossly affected the country’s earnings and demands an urgency to develop other non-oil revenue initiatives to sustain the nation’s economy.
He said the zero-oil economy plan which is being developed would unlock the potentials of each state in the development and promotion of at least one crop for export.
According to him, “the agricultural sector has greater potential to address the nation’s problems of unemployment, acute poverty, and hunger, hence, the reason why the Federal Government has committed many resources to revamp the sector.
“The ongoing Zero-Oil Economy plan puts credence to this assertion. The Zero-Oil Economy Plan when finalized would be adopted as a national Agenda to further diversify Nigeria’s export away from crude oil.
“The plan amongst others is to add at least US$150 Billion to the country’s foreign reserves cumulatively from non-oil exports over the next ten years; create at least 500,000 additional export linked jobs annually due principally to increase in productive export activities; lift at least ten million Nigerians out of poverty and empower each State and its people by integrating them into the export value chain.”
He also mentioned that the FG has started executing the construction of 347km rural roads connecting 266 communities nationwide which according to him would “facilitate transportation of agricultural produce to markets, reduce post-harvest losses, encourage investment of value-adding industries for processing and storage of farm products, lower product cost, discourage rural-urban migration, reduce urban slum and improve security.”
Speaking earlier, Governor Darius Ishaku informed the forum that Taraba has since given priority to agriculture and animal husbandry, and was ready to welcome partnerships from development partners and other states to increase its value chain.
Ishaku who was represented by his deputy, Haruna Manu, further said the agricultural sector if properly harnessed, has the capacity to employ millions of youths across the country.
He said, “with the arable land that Taraba has and our favorable weather condition suitable for the cultivation of various food crops and animal husbandry, we have given top priority to agriculture to ensure food security and increase income.
“It is however time for the nation to look beyond oil and focus more on agriculture which accommodates all and has the capacity to employ our youths.”
Taraba state commissioner for budget and planning, Solomon Elisha in his remarks urged the forum to share knowledge on the thematic area, to ensure the realization of the economic and social development the country desires.