Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it spent $2.41 billion to import rice between January 2012 and May 2015.
Making this known, in Abuja, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said it was against this backdrop that the Muhammadu Buhari administration considered agriculture as a priority sector.
Osinbajo who spoke through the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters (Office of the Vice President), Dr. Adeyemi Dipeoplu, disclosed that production in the agricultural sector is faster than other sectors.
“It is possible to generate increased agricultural production in a relatively shorter time. With appropriate irrigation, it is possible to have three rice harvests in one year while the harvest of tomato, for instance, takes a maximum of between 45 and 70 days.
“It is possible to have eight cycles of tomatoes in one year. The benefit of prioritising agriculture is that it boosts activities across its related value chain including demands for inputs and the provision of raw materials in agro process,” he emphasised.
According to Osinbajo, agriculture is a priority of this administration as reflected by the pride of place it enjoys in the ERGP.
“The reason for prioritising agriculture in an economy such as ours is not far fetched. In addition to the need to diversify the economy, agriculture is a source of income to small scale farmers and job creation by larger farmers. It is also a means of generating initial foreign exchange products to support the manufacturing and service sectors while conserving foreign exchange,” the Vice President explained.
In his remarks, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by Mr. Lawrence Ode, noted that food is very significant as the variability in inflation is often attributed to food inflation.