Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, on Thursday, expressed optimism, that Nigeria will not only achieve national food sufficiency in no distant future, but also meet the food requirements of other parts of the world, especially, the west, central, eastern and northern sub regions of Africa, and the European Union.
Ogbeh, who equally hinted, that agriculture will soon reclaim its position as the mainstay of the country’s economy instead of oil, added that he foresaw the next generation of billionaires in Nigeria emerging from the agricultural sector.
He, however, said it will require collective decision of all the stakeholders in the sector, to harness the country’s potentials in agriculture to achieve zero tolerance for food importation.
Ogbeh spoke at the convocation lecture of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB).
The theme of the lecture is ‘Food and the Future”.
The minister said though hunger is real in the country, Nigeria has a brighter future in agriculture, which he noted, possesses capacity to take the country out of poverty as well as providing employment for the youths.
He said, “I see a bright future for the agric sector. I see us achieving national food sufficiency in record time. I see us eating in the right quantity and in the right mix. I see us producing food for export, and increasingly meeting the food requirements of other parts of the world, especially the west, central, eastern and northern sub-regions of Africa, and the European Union in the years ahead.
“I see our food industries flourishing and supporting us in wealth creation and employment generation. I even see our animals eating well and supplying us the nutrients that our bodies need for healthy living.
“I see the next generation of billionaires in Nigeria emerging from the agricultural sector. I see healthier citizens, conscious of the need to eat well rather than eat anything that comes their way. I see prosperity along the agricultural value chains that takes us out of food inadequacy and poverty. I see agriculture replacing oil as the mainstay of our national economy. I see a Nigeria with zero tolerance for food importation, imbued with a national pride of growing and eating what is produced locally. I see a Nigeria where our huge population in 2010, as the third most populous nation in the world, becomes a source of our strength. That is, however, if we all walk the talk. It is a collective decision. The choice is ours”.
Ogbeh, however, tasked FUNAAB, as a specialized institution in agriculture, on the need to provide a substantial part of the food requirements of the people of Ogun, Lagos and Oyo States.
This, according to him, will not only be promoting access to food in Nigeria, but also enhancing its internal revenue generation capacity, especially, in the Face of dwindling fund allocation from the federal government.
He, also harped on the need for the institution, to break new frontiers in agricultural researches and innovations, urging it to also commercialize its research breakthroughs.
“I urge you to place more emphasis on research and innovation and partner with the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) Agricultural Colleges and Research Institutes, in the country, to take the agricultural sector to the next level.
“I urge you to commercialize your research breakthroughs and set up subsidiaries for providing market-driven innovative services which the agricultural sector urgently requires foot its sustenance and rapid growth. Gone are the days when research breakthroughs should lie fallow on the shelf. They are needed in the field more than ever before now for the transformation of the agricultural sector”. Ogbe stated.