Agriculture can revamp Nigeria’s economy-VP Osinbajo

Timothy Choji, Abuja

Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has emphasised the need for all citizens of the country to embrace farming, in order to actualise the economic diversification plan of the country.

He stated this on Monday at the public presentation of the agricultural roadmap of the country titled, “Agriculture sector roadmap, 2016-2020, The Green Alternative.”

Osinbajo said the country cannot continue to rely on proceeds from oil for the welfare of millions of its citizens.

According to the Vice President, the ‘Green Alternative’ programme would be the arrow head of government’s economic diversification plans.

“Early in the life of this administration, President Muhammadu Buhari urged all Nigerians to return to the farms, given the need for us to liberate ourselves from the trappings of the periodic circle of boom interlaced with burst and meltdown. That was an urgent call for our country to embrace the truth that an oil dependent economy will never provide enough for over 170 million people,” he said.

Bank of Agriculture

Professor Osinbajo said plans have already been concluded to re-position the Bank of Agriculture, in order to support farmers financially, because of high interest rates by commercial banks.

“The double digit interest rates at the moment and the almost religious reluctance of the banks to lend to agriculture; we must develop some funding options. The Ministry of Finance has practically concluded plans to recapitalize and reengineer the Bank of Agriculture, to give single digit interest rate loans to farmers,” he said.

He encouraged workers in the public sector to also embrace farming because the Nigerian constitution permits them to do so.

“This agricultural revolution calls for us all to farm. Interestingly the only commercial activity that our constitution allows a public officer to do is farming. So we have no excuse,” the Vice President stated.

Professor Osinbajo noted that the Green Alternative programme of the Buhari led administration is vital because, it encompasses the agric policies of his predecessors.

He announced that out of the five hundred thousand teachers to be employed under the social investment programme of government, one hundred thousand would be employed as agricultural extension workers, to give the sector a boost.

It could be recalled that ‘The Green Alternative’ policy was few weeks ago approved by the Federal Executive Council and now that it has been launched. It is expected to boost farming activities across the country as well as improve the economy.