President Goodluck Jonathan stated that Nigeria was not taken by surprise by the falling oil prices in the international market. These declaration, which was made on December 16, Tuesday, is not rubbish because Nigeria, in the past 3 years, has implemented agricultural transformation to tackle any possible implication of the falling prices for crude.
Jonathan stressed that the implementation of the agricultural transformation agenda had led to the production of 21 million metric tonnes (MT) of food in the past three years, while it had earlier targeted to add 20 million MT of food by 2015.
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The President said: “The decline in the price of crude oil did not take us by surprise. For the past three years we had been engaged on a carefully designed and implemented agricultural transformation agenda. The agriculture sector is vital for the economy of Nigeria. The recent decline in the price of crude oil further underscores the necessity to rapidly diversify our economy away from dependency on crude oil.”
How does agricultural modernization work?
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, states that Nigeria has about 84 million hectares of arable land and not more than 10 per cent of the land is cultivated, adding that the two prominent weathers of rainfall and sunshine in the North, South, East and West are an indication that Nigeria has potential to be a global power house in food and agriculture.
The Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) is the largest ever government-enabled private sector-led effort to grow agriculture in Nigeria.
These targets are provided by de-regulation, attractive financing, concentrated infrastructure investments, and competitive policies, the sector will be more productive, efficient and competitive.
A lot of investment projects are realising within the modernization.
For example, in 2012 Blumberg Grain, the Global food giant invested $250 million in a large-scale food storage facilities for Nigeria’s agricultural sector creating up to 1,000 jobs.
See what David Blumberg, CEO, Blumberg Grain - West Africa thinks of Nigerian agriculture :
At the beginning of 2014 the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development under its Agricultural Transformation Agenda launched the first phase another project - Staple Crop Processing Zones (initiative to drive modernization of Nigeria’s agricultural sector).
The Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ) development is a major investment project driven by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as a critical component of the Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).
It includes the construction, development and operation of agro-processing clusters located in areas of high-food production across the country. The main objective of the SCPZ is to facilitate agro-processing environments that will be used to attract private sector investments into the local production and processing of Nigerian agricultural produce, with the primary goal of substituting imports and adding value to local agriculture produce to serve the vast and growing local market.
The SCPZ plan also includes the establishment of Agro-Industrial Towns around the SCPZs that will provide employment for millions of households in the surrounding areas. Ultimately, 14 SCPZs will be set up across Nigeria around rice, sorghum and other grains, cassava, fisheries, horticulture and livestock.
According to the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda Nigeria’s agricultural sector has attracted about N896 billion ($5.6 billion) private sector investments between 2012 and 2014.
Minister Adesina says that agriculture can no longer be viewed as a development activity in Nigeria, but a business.
He explained: “We must aggressively work to unlock this potential by diversifying the economy, reduce demand for food import and create jobs. We decided to be investment focused in agriculture with a clear government role, which is to create good roads, provide good incentives and the investment we talk about is about private sector that is depending on growth because agriculture is not a poverty reduction sector but wealth creation sector where everything about agriculture is business."
Speaking about food import Jonathan said: “Our food import bill declined from 1.1 trillion naira in 2009 to 624 billion naira by December of 2013, and continues to decline. Our electronic wallet system, which allows us to reach farmers with subsidized seeds and fertilizers via mobile phones, has become the backbone of a more modern agricultural sector. Over 14 million farmers have received their subsidized farm inputs through the e-wallet system.”
By producing quality food in the country Nigeria will save scarce foreign exchange, reduce dependence on food imports, while reviving rural areas and creating wealth for Nigerian farmers.