By Ruth Tene Natsa
The federal government through the minister of agriculture and rural development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said that there is need to make huge investment in agriculture which will in turn attract youths into the sector.
The minister who stated this at a National Workshop on a New Agricultural Policy for Nigeria, organised by the National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria (NAFN), also lamented the low participation of rural dwellers who are supposed to embark on agriculture to feed the nation and increase the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). In his words, “There are those who estimate that by 2025 our population will stand at 450million, making Nigeria the third most populated country on the planet earth, but what is more worrisome is that 75 per cent of this huge population will be living in cities while 25 per cent only will be in the rural areas. Can the 25 per cent feed themselves and the city dwellers? Yes, we if can hasten to lift agriculture to the level of India, China, and Thailand, not to mention the nations of Western Europe.
“To get to that level, we need to make huge investments in land preparation, machinery, seed improvement, farmer education, and encouragement or enticement of younger people into the agricultural terrain”.
In his welcome address, the chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said that agriculture must be born again in order to end our national shame. “A nation that depends on other nations for its feeding has no right call itself independent. Agriculture must be born again in our country in order to end our national shame. Nigeria has close to 80 per cent of arable land, yet it is a massive net importer of food and other agricultural produce because our peasant farmers are still tilling the earth they inherited from their forefathers with obsolete farming
implements,” he said. Adamu, however, said that there was the need to create a forum to encourage a constant dialogue between farmers and the ministry in formulating agricultural rebirth policies. He also suggested a clear policy on procurement and sale of fertiliser at the right time during the farming season.