President Muhammadu Buhari says economic diversification is a necessity for Nigeria, in the wake of current financial challenges.
He therefore sees agriculture as a viable option for the county which hitherto depended solely on oil.
He made the remarks at the 8th Bola Tinubu colloquium, which took place at the International Conference Centre Abuja.
President Buhari who chaired the occasion, said agriculture was a good place to start diversifying the economy, since God has blessed the country with enormous resource.
He stressed that Nigeria must produce what its citizens would eat locally, instead of importing food stuff from abroad.
“In the past few years we have spent in excess of $11 billion annually, importing wheat, rice, sugar and fish, we need no and indeed we cannot afford to continue on this trajectory.
This is why this administration has prioritized agriculture and food security as the basis for our socio-economic development. Nigeria has the potential to produce what it eats as well as become the food basket of West Africa,” he said.
Enhancing rice production
President Buhari emphasized that in line with modern trends, technology has a great role to play and through agriculture, nutrition for young Nigerians can also be enhanced.
The President stated that the Federal government was already collaborating with nine states to boost rice production in the country, as he announced that the private sector would also be mobilized for the same purpose.
“The federal government is now working closely with nine rice producing states with a view to attaining self sufficiency in the shortest possible time. Next, we are going to attract and mobilize private capital to support government’s investment in the agricultural sector,” President Buhari stated.
Also speaking, Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu expressed optimism that Nigeria can achieve self sufficiency in rice production within a year and wheat production in the next three years.
He pleaded with President Buhari to mobilize the international community to address distortions in the price of rice globally, to encourage rice farmers in Nigeria.
“Rice grows in 33 states in Nigeria and our yield per hectare has been affected because those countries that distort trade in the commodity have been able to sell around the world at prices lower than the production cost consequently, rather than buying from us that can compete with them, we end up buying from them this distortion has depressed prices to an extent that our farmers can no longer compete.
I hereby plead with our President to join hands with his counterparts around the world, in seeing that the problem is fixed, to encourage rice production,” he said.
Chief host at the event, Bola Tinubu who celebrated his 64th birthday, thanked Nigerians for supporting the present administration.
He thanked President Buhari and his cabinet for giving the country a new direction.
The celebrant said the commitment to be self sufficient in agriculture was the best present he received from Nigerians.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, State Governors, Ministers and traditional rulers also attend the Colloquium, which had “Agriculture: action, work revolution” as its theme.