Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, has said that by 2050, Nigeria’s population will likely be five percent of the entire world’s population, hence the need to make agriculture more attractive especially to the youths.
“There is a need for us to make agriculture more attractive because by 2050, we are likely to be five percent of the entire world population.
“How to feed that crowd is a problem for you and I. We don’t want to be like Venezuela where, despite their oil, there is simply nothing to eat as their currency is so useless.”
Ogbe who stated this at the official commissioning of Agribusiness Incubation Center at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi on Saturday maintained that research and development were key to progress particularly for agriculture.
He thanked the universities of agriculture across the country for what they are doing especially in the areas of research and development which he noted, are key to progress and particularly strategic for agriculture.
The Minister of Agriculture also commended the FUAM Vice Chancellor, Prof. Richard Kimbir, for ensuring the completion and commissioning of the agribusiness incubation center in just nine months.
While noting that one of the major foci of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is to ensure food security and food sufficiency, he said it is for that reason that the administration from the outset, clamped down on food importation as a way of encouraging local food production.
“We are wasting 9million tones of cashew fruits in Nigeria. We spend $1.2 billion yearly importing milk into the country. Here is a country with 37 million children malnourished. Our cows don’t produce enough milk and that is why the herdsmen have engaged in self-help which we do not want to see anymore.
There was a time when we spent $5 billion on importation of rice per day. That has stopped and very soon, we will become an exporter of rice,” he assured.
On his part, Prof. Kimbir said the occasion was very historic as it marked a bold step by the Federal government to walking the talk on the concept of agribusiness.
“The university is deeply elated by this decision of the ministry to include it in the pilot scheme of these centres aimed at establishing connect between laboratory and land and market-approach to farming.
“This emphasises the promotion of agricultural-value chain in the areas of food production, processing, preservation, marketing and storage,” Kimbir posited.
He disclosed that the university had keyed into the agricultural policies of the Federal government which are aimed at economic diversification.
The VC revealed that only recently, the governing council approved a memorandum of understanding with a cooperative society under partnership agreement for the cultivation of 1,000 hectares of organically- grown ginger on campus which targets international market under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Scheme.
“Take off of the project this farming season will no doubt generate thousands of jobs as well as reposition Nigeria as one of the world’s largest exporter of organically-grown ginger,” Kimbir said.