Foreign exchange constraints and availability of arable land make improved local agricultural production in Nigeria imperative, rather than continued importation with its significant pressure on dwindling foreign earnings of the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said this while receiving a Russian delegation led by the Russian Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Alexander Tkachev, who is also the Co-Chairman of the Nigeria-Russia Joint Commission.
Professor Osinbajo said “the oil prices have gone down tremendously and yet large amount of foreign exchange is used to purchase food abroad and we have large arable land for agriculture. It won’t make sense, if we don’t use the land.”
The Vice President urged the Russian farmers to invest in Nigeria, produce and import from here.
“We are just 6 hours away from Europe by air. Vegetables and flour can be exported to Europe from here, even our local market here is robust,” he said
Both the Vice President and the delegation that included the Russian Ambassador in Nigeria, Nikolay Udovichenko, Russian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Evgeny Gromyko and officials of Russia’s firm- United Company (Rusal) agreed that Nigeria and Russia should deepen their existing diplomatic relationship, especially economically.
According to Professor Osinbajo “there is a lot of money to be made if Russian technology in agriculture is deployed locally,” adding that there are better opportunities for economic cooperation between both countries.
Speaking earlier, the Russia’s Agriculture Minister, Mr. Alexander Tkachev, expressed his country’s willingness to enhance the existing trade relations with Nigeria.
He observed that the Nigeria-Russia trade volume as at the end of 2015 exceeded $300 million, but added that there are potentials for improvement in the years ahead.