THE Federal Government, Tuesday, assured that agriculture is being treated as moneymaking business and to create wealth for agribusiness players.
The assurance was made in a keynote address delivered by Regional Director, North Central, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sylvester Baye, at ‘Workshops on Good Agricultural Practices / Aflatoxins Mitigation in Sesame; and the Use / Application of Inoculant (Nodumax) in Soybean Production at Minna, Niger State.
According to Baye, a nation that does not feed itself becomes a threat to its own sovereign existence, hence Nigerians growing their food, processing what they produce, becoming competitive in export markets, and creating jobs all across in their economy, are crucial for national security.
He also called on Nigerians to take their destinies in their hands by putting in collective efforts to support the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari through increased agricultural production, processing and value addition.
He said: “This gathering, which is made up of key players particularly farmers and researchers, amongst others is charged with responsibility to review the current status of the subsector, identify the challenges and opportunities, proffer solutions to these challenges, as well as chart a roadmap for its development, in the areas of discuss.
“There is no gain saying that Nigeria is blessed with diverse agricultural endowment to drive the country’s economy but this has been relegated to the background due to years of neglect of the sector. Many thanks therefore, go to this administration that has made agriculture the center of its economic diversification agenda.
“Nothing is more important than food. A nation that does not feed itself becomes a threat to its own sovereign existence. Growing our own food, processing what we produce, becoming competitive in export markets, and creating jobs all across our economy, are crucial for our national security.
Nigeria has immense agricultural potential. We have 84 million hectares of arable land but only cultivate 40 per cent. We have 263 billion cubic meters of water – with two of the largest rivers in Africa.
“We have a cheap labor force to support agricultural intensification. Our population of close to 200 million makes us a huge market. But we must not be the market for others. We must grow and process our own food. We must feed ourselves. We must create markets locally for our own farmers. Charity they say begins at home.”
He further stated that, “While our potential is great, no one eats potential. To unlock the potential of agriculture to once again drive the economy, we embarked on a major transformation of the agricultural sector.
“We are doing this through the rapid transformation of key agricultural value chains – from the farm to the table. We are treating agriculture as a moneymaking business and not as a charitable development project.
He also added that the Ministry has put in place various measures to increase production, processing and value addition including supports for research through the National Agricultural Research System in the country; making available various classes of seeds; sensitization and capacity building for stakeholders; and other supports including establishment of cottage processing centers at different locations across the country among others.
Meanwhile, he acknowledged that the workshop is a giant stride in the series of sensitization workshops being conducted by the Ministry across the country.
He therefore charged participants at the workshop, “In carrying out this assignment we should know that none of us is stronger than all of us. It is therefore pertinent that we work together as a team for this common goal of positively transforming agricultural value chain in Nigeria.”
Earlier, the State Director, Niger State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ahmedu Zegiat, pointed that the Ministry is focusing on achieving food and nutrition security.
Zegiat further stated the Ministry through its various activities is using a “combination of policies and appropriate agricultural technologies that will lead to job and wealth creation as well as improved living standards.
“One of the ways in which the Ministry is working to achieve this objective is through the promotion of various crops in which Nigeria has a comparative advantage in production.”