This is an opportunity for Nigerian youths to take advantage of.
By: Femi odejide
FG to.also.deploy $100 million for.financial support.
Following the recent decline in the price of crude oil, President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said it had become imperative to rapidly diversify the nation’s economy away from dependency on crude oil, and focus more on agriculture.
He noted that agriculture sector remains vital for the economy of Nigeria.
The president made the remarks at the launch of Youth Empowerment in Agriculture.Programme (YEAP) and Fund For Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa in Abuja. FAFIN, according to Jonathan, would deploy $100million towards providing affordable long term financing to support the development of small and medium scale agri-businesses.
He said if the nation produces its own food, “we will save scarce foreign exchange, reduce dependence on food imports, while reviving our rural areas and creating wealth for our
Jonathan noted that the decline in the price of crude oil did not take his administration by surprise, adding that in the past three years, it had been engaged in a carefully designed and
implemented agricultural transformation agenda.
“Our massive food production efforts, which led to the production of 21 million metric tons of food in the past three years, have created a buffer and mitigated the impact of the devaluation on food prices.
“Our food import bill declined from N1.1 trillion in 2009 to N624 billion by December of 2013, and continues to decline. Our electronic wallet system, which allows us to reach farmers with subsidised seeds and fertilizers via mobile phones, has become the.backbone of a more modern agricultural sector.
Over 14 million farmers have received their subsidised farm inputs through the e-wallet
“Over $5.6. billion of new private sector investments have also come into the agricultural sector, which clearly shows that local and foreign businesses see Nigeria’s agricultural sector as very viable for investments. Agriculture has become the new wealth sector for Nigeria.
“To further boost the performance of the agriculture sector, Nigeria needs younger and
more entrepreneurial commercial farmers. The rapidly ageing population of farmers poses a
significant challenge and unless younger farmers are quickly developed, our future food.security and competitiveness in agriculture will.be compromised.
“That is why we are focusing on programmes that will engage our teeming youths in profitable and viable economic activities along the agricultural value chains, including commercial farming, processing, value addition, logistics, transport and marketing of value added agricultural products. They will not.just take agriculture as a way of life, they will.run agriculture as a business,” Jonathan said.
The president said he was confident that several young millionaires and even billionaires of Nigeria would come out of the agriculture sector.
He stressed that before a lot of youths could be successfully attracted to the agriculture sector,
“we must replace the hoes and cutlasses with modern farm machinery.”
Jonathan added that agriculture should not be synonymous with hard labour or rural life.
“To drive the modernisation of the agriculture sector, I launched the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises (AEHEs), a private sector driven programme that will provide mechanised services for farmers across the country.
“By the end of December 2014, a total of 80 Agricultural Equipment Hiring Centres would have become fully established across the country. Over the next two years, a total of 1,200 of the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Centres would be established across the nation.
“I am pleased to see that some of the young commercial farmers are already benefiting from the federal government mechanisation support on their farms. We must take the hoes and
cutlasses away from the farms and replace them with tractors and mechanised equipment.
“The Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), which I am launching off
today, will further change the face of Nigeria’s agriculture. YEAP has been designed to create a
new generation of 750,000 young commercial farmers and agribusiness leaders (Nagropreneurs) that will make Nigeria’s agriculture more efficient, profitable and competitive. They will become the CEOs of their own farms and agribusinesses, create jobs in the rural areas and reverse the trend of high rural to urban migration.
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Date: Thu. 18/Dec/2014 12:16pm like