Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Thursday said the World Bank had granted a $900 million facility to Nigeria as part of its assistance towards food security in the country.
Adesina, who made this disclosure in Abuja while briefing the media on the outcome of the just-concluded Nigeria Forum in the United States of America, also said Agco, one of the largest tractor companies in the US, had agreed to establish a tractor assembly plants in Rivers and Kaduna States.
The minister said both the $900 million facility and the engineers from Agco would make their presence known in the country within two weeks.
He expressed the optimism that with the number of participants at the show, which he said included Nigerians in Diaspora, the country would not only be food self sufficient, but that the teeming unemployed youths would get employed within the shortest period of time.
He added that Cardol, a US-based food processing company, is set to invest in cassava production in the country within the shortest period of time.
He, however, regretted that despite the fact that Nigeria needed over 300,000 tractors for mechanised farming, only about 20,000 were currently available.
In his words: “The present day farmers are ageing and the onus is on us here in the ministry to encourage our teeming unemployed youths to be interested in agriculture. But the major problem is that none of them would want to farm with cutlass and hoe. That is why we are getting modern day equipment readily available for them to farm.”
While enjoining the unemployed youths to grab this opportunity by getting involved in mechanised farming, the minister called on both state and local governments to assist them to get land and other necessary incentives for them
He said: “Agriculture accounts for about 44 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and responsible for over 70 per cent employment. The time has come -- and I know it is now - for every Nigerian to contribute his own quota in ensuring that the sector booms. Nobody drinks oil, but we all eat at one point or the other. We should join hands in ensuring that agriculture moves from peasant farming to mechanised one. The state and local governments should ensure that there is abundance of incentives for the business to thrive in their jurisdiction.
“One of the good news is that Nigerians in the Diaspora are interested in the sector, as well as foreigners. We at home should do everything possible to ensure that the business thrives. Our message on agriculture is ringing louder in the international community.”
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