Agriculture to drive Nigeria’s economic recovery

Efforts to get Nigeria out of the present economic challenges are beginning to yield positive results, especially in agriculture.

The Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu said an increase in the volume of rice production and processing was already saving a lot of foreign exchange.

Nigeria only imported 58,000 tons of rice from Thailand in 2015 as against 1.2million tons in 2014.

Rice mills shutting down
Mr Shehu said ‘Parboiled rice mills’ in some Asian countries were shutting down production due to the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to deny foreign exchange for the importation of rice.

“Five of such mills in Thailand servicing Nigeria have stopped production due to the withdrawal of our patronage… This is because Nigeria, which is one of the world’s largest importers of rice no longer, buys rice from them,’’ he stated.

Growing Investment
According to him, government is watching with keen interest the growing investment in rice milling by the private sector.

The Presidential spokesman said that government would continue to encourage the Ministry of Agriculture on such efforts through BUA Industries in Jigawa and Dangote in Kano.

He stressed that such encouragement would also be extended to OLAM and WACOTT in Nasarawa and Kebbi as well as a consortium of businessmen led by a former governor in Anambra.

Mr Shehu noted with delight that the price of a bag of fertilizer had been reduced from over N9,000 per bag to N5,500.

Fertilizer blending plants
“This country has about 32 fertilizer blending plants that have remained idle for many years, but about half of that number is now in production with many of them running three shifts a day,’’
 he explained.

Some of the blending plants have now provided direct employment to hundreds of workers and indirect employment opportunities to thousands of others.

Mr Shehu said that the President Buhari government’s agriculture revolution was bringing about other socio-economic changes.

“A recent survey carried out in two urban areas of Jigawa and Kiyawa showed that jobless young men are migrating from commercial motor cycle business known as,`achaba’, to farming.

“In Kiyawa, it takes a long wait to catch a commercial motor cycle because they are rapidly disappearing.

“The young men are moving to the farms. These are development issues in the country that our media should pay attention,’’ he further explained.

The presidential spokesman frowned at the way some elites have continued to attack some government policies and programmes in spite of their positive impact on the ordinary Nigerians.

Solar power projects
“Because the elite don’t care for ordinary people, they are saying that government is doing nothing but we are doing a lot for ordinary people.

“They don’t want us to talk about the 14 solar power projects that have been licensed to boost electricity supply in the country; the Mambila power project which will soon leave the drawing board and the many Chinese projects including the standard gauge railway,’’ Mr Shehu said.

He added that Nigeria his country has more important things to talk about instead of dwelling on trivialities.