President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians to get serious about agriculture as crude oil and gas exports will no longer be sufficient as the country’s major revenue earner.
The president gave the charge at an audience with Dr Kanayo Nwanze, the Nigerian born President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
“It’s time to go back to the land. We must face the reality that the petroleum we had depended on for so long will no longer suffice. We campaigned heavily on agriculture, and we are ready to assist as many want to go into agricultural ventures,” he said.
Buhari pledged that his administration would also cut short the long bureaucratic processes that Nigerian farmers had to go through to get any form of assistance from the government in order to encourage them and improve access to funds.
He told the IFAD President that improvement of the productivity of farmers, dry season farming and creative ways to combat the shrinking of the Lake Chad will also receive the attention of his administration.
“There is so much to be done. We will try and articulate a programme and consult organisations like IFAD for advice,” he added.
President Buhari said that foreign exchange will be conserved for machinery and other items needed for production “instead of using it to import things like toothpicks”.
Speaking earlier, Nwanze congratulated Buhari on his victory at the general elections and assured him that IFAD was ready to give all possible assistance to the Federal Government and Nigerian farmers to boost agricultural production in the country.
Following the meeting with President Buhari, Nwanze told State House correspondents that “Nigeria has the largest portfolio of IFAD’s investment in Western and Central Africa and the second largest in Africa.
“But the case point here is that this country has all the endowments that it takes not only for it to produce enough food for its population but also to be the bread basket of region.
“And this is where my institution on my behalf, I offered our services and our support in the agenda of rural transformation as a key ingrate in this country’s economic and social development,” he said.