From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo, has advised the Federal Government to invest sufficiently in agriculture as a strategy to curb youth restiveness in the country.
Obasanjo, who spoke yesterday in Abuja, at the flagged off of new tractors to boost farm mechanization in the country, said agriculture stands in good stead in boosting the country’s earnings.
Represented by the Emir of Keffi, Alhaji Shehu Chindu Yamusa, he said: “investment in Agriculture is key to sustainable economic growth and development. Agriculture is the only way to engage the youth and make them productive.”
He hailed the All Farmers Progressive Association for the laudable project of contributing significantly to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians through sustainable modern agro technology.
Meanwhile, President of the All Farmers Progressive Association, Chief Ogbo Joseph Douglas, said the organization will always be ready to cater for welfare of all farmers in Nigeria and beyond.
According to him “the organization has entered into agreement and partnership with various agro-manufacturing companies to make fertilizers and other Inputs available to farmers across the country to better their lots.
“The Association is doing everything humanly possible to reduce the usage of chemical fertilizers as most of them are harmful to crops thereby reducing yields.
“The organization has also made available lights through renewable energy with the initial 1000 pieces of Solar Panels to be distributed to rural farmers free of charge to enable them live a comfortable life irrespective of their location.”
Douglas further disclosed that the body is building a website and a portal that would serve as farmers identity management that will allow both local and International farmers to exchange ideas and information via the internet.
“When completed, the portal will also enable farmers to sell their farm produce online,” he added.
The Guest Speaker, Professor Moses Ogbaji from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, advised government not to undermine the potency of agriculture in building the economic of the country.
“To a casual observer, it would appear that Nigeria Agriculture has done well in spite of the problem. After all, it is said that over 170 million Nigerians, about 70% of the population derive their livelihood from Agriculture,” he said.
Professor Ogbaji added that the danger signals are that the productivity of agriculture has not grown but has declined in some sectors, “consequently Nigeria has been unable to feed it’s population.
“The second danger signal is that the population is growing rapidly at the rate of 3 percent, which surpasses the rate of growth of food production. The third is that our foreign exchange earnings is declining such that we cannot afford to supplement local food production with imports.
“These three factors have combined to cause acute food scarcity, which is currently, felt more in spiraling food prices than in non availability of food. This is why currently, the average salary earner spends an unduly large proportion of the monthly take-home pay on food alone.
“Any attempt to increase agricultural production and have food security without considering a proper farm mechanisation strategy would never have a positive outcome.
“A sustainable agricultural mechanization strategy is a planning strategy that contributes to the goal of sustainable agriculture and at the same time accepts food self-sufficiency and generates economic and inclusive growth as well social benefits.”