President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said that the reforms embarked upon by his administration in the agricultural sector would add 20 million metric tonnes of food to domestic supply and create at least 3.5 million new jobs in agriculture and allied industries by 2015.
The president who made this disclosure at the formal opening of a meeting with members of the Eminent Persons Group on the Transformation of Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector, said that objective of these structural and policy reforms was to build on Nigeria’s “tremendous natural resources”and reverse the decline in the agricultural sector’s productivity which followed the discovery of oil, establish domestic self-sufficiency in food and make the country “a major net exporter of food”.
According to the president, “Such a shift will not only reduce the billions of dollars we spend importing basic food items, but will also create millions of jobs, especially for our youth. This shift will also drive agricultural industrialization as more agro-allied enterprises are established to process and add value to local foods for domestic and international markets,”.
He emphasised that his Administration was committed to a government-enabled, private sector driven transformation of the nation’s agricultural sector in order to change the perception in the country that agriculture is for the never do well.
“Government will continue to support public-private sector partnerships that reduce the costs of doing business in Nigeria especially by providing critical infrastructure such as power, water and roads. This is why my Government is developing Staple Crop Processing Zones as a new framework for attracting the private sector into areas of high food production, to process, and add value to all commodities produced in Nigeria.
“We also recognise the need to accelerate investments in research and development, and take advantage of modern technologies, including bio-technology and ICT technologies that will expand possibilities for our farmers,” he noted.
He disclosed that the initiative to transform Nigeria’s agricultural sector through the private sector is already paying off with new private sector investments worth about Eight Billion U.S. Dollars now committed to agriculture.