Nigeria’s current strength in agriculture has been described as its strongest powerhouse to massively benefit from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) agreement this year and in future. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, gave this hint in a chat on Nigeria’s participation in AfCFTA take-off.
AfCTFA, which Nigeria joined as a signatory in July 2019, officially took-off on January 1, 2021, after months of delay as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19. The agric minister observed that with Nigeria’s more than 92 million hectares of fertile and cultivable land, favourable climate condition and an abundant and resilient workforce, the country stands to be the biggest beneficiary in the trade relationship that spans across 52 other African countries. Nanono further called on Nigerians to vigorously embrace agriculture in order to achieve food security in the country.
“Going back to the land is the way out to guaranteeing food production stability in our country. We depend on petrol at the expense of agriculture. “Now the oil industry is in turmoil. We are being squeezed to produce at 1.5 million barrels a day as against a capacity to produce 2.3 million barrels.
“At the same time, the technical cost of our production per barrel is high compared to the Middle East production,” President Muhammadu Buhari had said. While listing the strides of Buhari’s administration in agriculture, Nanono submitted that the agricultural revolution initiated under the president had catapulted Nigeria to the position of number one rice producer in Africa and 13th globally.
These feats, Nanono pointed out, had translated into the healthy proliferation of hundreds of rice milling industries across the country, resulting in the meaningful employment of scores of thousands of previously unemployed youths. He also called on middleclass Nigerians to invest heavily in the agricultural value chains so as to avail more youths with gainful employment through agroindustries. The minister further assured Nigerians that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development under his leadership would not rest on its oars until Nigeria attains the much-needed self-sufficiency in food production.
He also reiterated his commitment to the drive to fully mechanise Nigeria’s agriculture through massive tractorisation programme of the Federal Government. Accordingly, the minister noted that about 5,000 units of tractors would be made available to farmers this year through allocation to farm clusters across the country.
It will be recall that President Buhari had asked the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) to distribute tractors being refurbished at the agency’s institute in Minna, Niger State, to farmers to boost food production in the country. Buhari said one of the most crucial modern implements required to till the ground and help farmers to reap bountiful harvests is tractor.