Federal Government has said that tremendous improvements have been recorded in the agriculture sector with geometrical increasing fund allocation under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the remarks during the fourth National Discourse of Food Security, organised by The Companion, a faith-based Association of Muslim Men in Business and the Professions, on Sunday in Lagos.
Osinbajo who delivered the Keynote Address at the occasion said the country recorded 14.27 per cent improvement in the agricultural sector in 2018.
The Renaissance reports that the theme of the discourse is “Food Security: Unleashing Nigeria’s Natural Potential for Self Sufficiency”.
According to the vice president, the focus of the administration is to achieve self-sufficiency in agriculture, emphasising that the Federal Government has been working towards achieving this through improved budgetary allocations.
“Self-sufficiency in food production has been the major pillar of our administration’s economic policy, President Muhamadu Buhari actually set a clear direction on the issue of self-sufficiency in food production.
“When he said that we must eat what we produce and must produce what we eat and we must consume what we produce and we backed that with substantial budgetary allocation to agriculture.
“In 2015, it was N8.8 billion but by 2016 we moved up to N42.6 billion and by 2018, N120.38 billion was allocated to agriculture.
“We have seen tremendous growth in agriculture output, which grew by 14.27 per cent as of 2018, so there has been a massive surge and massive growth in agriculture output,” Osinbajo said.
He also spoke on the importance of aggregation points, which also serve as service centres, established for small-holder farmers across the country to help farmers.
“They take their produce to the aggregation/service centres. It is from the aggregation points that they (farmers) are paid for their produce; if they take loans, it is here the loans are deducted from their sales.
“A hundred and nine aggregation points will be created in all the 109 senatorial districts in Nigeria and they will become agriculture process service centres in the country
“But in addition, the process service centres will be able to serve as foolproof from which we can add value to the agricultural process.
“So, these service centres will be based on comparative and complementary advantage that each location has along the existing value chain.
“So for now, the value chain that we will be using will be grains, livestock, poultry, cereals, fruits, roots and tubers.”
Osinbajo, therefore called on the state governments across the federation to key into the Federal Government’s initiative to ensure self-sufficiency in food production for the country.
“We also need the states to contribute to agriculture in the way that the federal government is driving agriculture in order to achieve the self-sufficiency that we intend at achieving,” the vice-president added.
The Guest Speaker, Prof. Fola Lasisi, who is the President, Nigerian Academy of Engineering, underscored the importance of extension services in the productive agricultural practice.
While praising the farmers in the northern parts of the country, Lasisi lamented that those in the south take extension services with levity.
According to him the extension service officers in the south are lazy and should be sacked as they are not rendering required service to the farmers in the southern states.
Lasisi, who was the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, also remarked that government’s attempt in trying to be in business has never yielded positive results.
“Government does not have to be in business, they will never be efficient.
“Look at the organisations that have been set up a long time ago, they never made it.
“Government should just provide a conducive environment for private people to do business.
Former governor of Osun, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, who was chairman on the occasion, charged Nigerians to “do away with foods that are not produced in the country and rather consume locally produced ones in order to enhance the nation’s economic potentials”.
Aregbesola also lamented the low level of productivity in the country, which he said, “cut across all sectors of the national economy”.
Prof. Lateef Sanni, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) sensitised Nigerians, especially former key players in various fields of human endeavour to “sufficient interest in agricultural practice” so that the country could attain desired food sufficiency and food security.
Sanni said that there is enough money to invest in agriculture and that those who have this money should show kine interest in investing in agriculture.
According to him, Nigeria has a lot of investment opportunities and comparative advantage in the production of various agricultural produces and that the time is ripe for us, as a nation, to invest and grow our agriculture potentials.
By Oluwashina Iyanda