Posted: May 15, 2012 05:04 PM
President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday, May 14, 2012 in a move to consolidate on his administration's agricultural transformation programmes, inaugurated the Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council at the State House, Abuja.
The council, which will be Chaired by President Jonathan with Vice President Namadi Sambo as alternate chair, will provide oversight for the overall agricultural transformation agenda.
The President noted that agriculture remains the most important sector of Nigeria’s economy in terms of contribution to the GDP (44 per cent) and employment (70 per cent), but lamented it has performed poorly over the years due to neglect.
He further said the country has huge agricultural potential, with 84 million hectares (ha) of arable land, but hastened to warn that Nigeria may have its food security undermined unless it becomes self-sufficient in food production.
"We must unlock the huge potential of the sector and strive to regain our lost glory in agriculture. Second, we need to diversify the economy away from sole reliance on oil. This will secure our economy and reduce foreign exchange volatility," he said.
Jonathan also stressed the importance of revolutionising the sector, saying the country would "be able to diversify its economy, reduce foreign exchange spent on food imports, and instead, earn valuable foreign exchange from exports of agricultural produce.
"Our administration’s agricultural agenda sets a target of adding an additional 20 million metric tons of food into the domestic food supply by 2015. It also plans to create 3.5 million jobs, both farm and non-farm, over the next five years.
"Our goal is very clear: to turn Nigeria away from being a net food importing country to become a self-sufficient and food exporting country.”
The President also announced the establishment of Agricultural Value Chains Group; Agricultural Infrastructure Group and Agricultural Finance and Investment Group.
Speaking further, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, noted that with the council's mandate, the country's agriculture would be truly transformed, saying, "this is our moment of destiny to transform the country's agriculture.”
Adesina who is the secretary of the council assured that the council "will work without politics to make the country self-sufficient. Agriculture has woken up with the agric transformation agenda. Our agriculture will never be the same again.”
Other members of the council include, the Governors of Adamawa, Anambra, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Kebbi and Niger, as well as the Ministers of State for Agriculture, Finance, National Planning, Trade and Investment, Water Resources, Power, Transport, Woks, CBN Governor and the Chief Economic Adviser to the President.