By Crusoe Osagie
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has assured Nigerians that the implementation of the new Agricultural Roadmap as conceptualised by the ministry would revive and transform the agricultural sector.
The minister made the pledge while declaring the National Agricultural Show open at the Abuja –Keffi Show ground, Nassarawa State.
Ogbeh said the roadmap would help revolutionise agriculture in Nigeria by engaging all the key stakeholders, particularly state governments, the organised private sector, Investors, women, youth farmers’ associations in the agricultural production and agro-export value chain.
He stated that the goal of the present administration was to build an agribusiness economy capable of meeting Nigeria’s domestic food security requirements and generating exports to broaden the national revenue base.
He said the administration would support sustainable income and job growth potentials through wealth creation, promotion of entrepreneurial activities, youth employment and enhance national productivity.
Ogbeh said: ”No Nation can truly boast of being sovereign if she cannot feed her citizens on a sustainable basis”.
He emphasised the need to put in place adequate measures for ensuring sustainable food security bearing in mind the anticipated population growth of 450 million people in 2050.
The minister explained that the present administration would pursue the development of agro exports in areas it had competitive edge in the past, mentioning Cocoa, Palm produce, Groundnuts, Cashew, Yam flour as such areas. According to him, there would be improvement in the use of fertilizers for higher crop yields, saying, “ Fertilizers would be put into appropriate use in each state of the Federation to avoid soil damage.”
Ogbeh said agriculture would be promoted as an all year round activity since farmers can no longer continue to rely on rain-fed agriculture because of the changing climatic conditions but assured that the over 200 under utilised dams in the country would be put to effective use.
The minister maintained that government would achieve self-sufficiency in egg production by promoting more investments in the livestock sector, establish one extension centre in all the 774 Local Government Areas. He added that self-sufficiency in grains like rice, sorghum, maize, millet, as well as milk and meat would also be achieved within the next 36 months.
He expressed optimism that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which intends to end poverty and hunger (Goals 1&2) and other complementary agenda such as Agenda 2063 of the African Union for sustainable development would be achieved if the Agricultural Roadmap is well implemented.
Earlier, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria (NAFN), Senator Adamu Abdulahi, said the objective of the agricultural show was to sensitise the people on the importance of agriculture.
Adamu maintained that agriculture and solid minerals are the future of Nigeria and charged the youths to take the lead in agriculture for their own sake and that of the country.
The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Nigeria, Dr. Louise Setshwaelo at the event called for concrete and robust actions to make agriculture more attractive to the younger generation, by ensuring efficiency and profitability of agriculture as an industry.
Setshwaelo said FAO would continue to partner with and support government efforts to open the door to new opportunities towards the achievement of National goals and Sustainable Development Goals.