Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged public officers to return to the farm for the nation to be liberated from the periodic cycle of boom inter-laced with busts and meltdowns.
He made the call in Abuja at the public presentation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s agricultural promotion policy, ‘The Green Alternative’.
Osinbajo noted that farming was the only conventional activity which the constitution allows a public officer to participate in.
“This agricultural revolution calls us all to farm, even small vegetable farms. The only conventional activity that our constitution allows a public officer is farming. So, we have no excuse,” he said.
He described President Buhari and the Agriculture minister Chief Audu Ogbeh as farmers who practice what they preach, and the “rest of us are being slowly converted!”
“It is an urgent call for the nation to embrace the truth that an oil-dependent economy would never provide enough for 170 million people and still grow in leaps and bounds,” he added.
Commending Buhari for his renewed vision of an agriculture-led economy as an alternative proposition to an oil dependent growth, Osinbajo said the government knew it had to put the economy on the path to inclusive growth with job opportunities for the nation’s huge population.
“One of the most critical components of that plan is to position agriculture as the arrow-head of the economic recovery effort. There is no question at all that if we get agriculture right, we’ll get our economy right. The road map we’re about to present, identifies two key challenges. The first is the inability to meet domestic food requirements: this is a productivity challenge driven by an input system and farming model that is likely inefficient, the lack of good seeds, fertilisers, irrigation, crop protection, etc.
“And two: the inability to export at the level required for marketing which is typified by an inefficient system for setting and enforcing food quality, poor knowledge of target markets, a weak inspectorate system and poor coordination amongst relevant agencies. With great clarity, ‘The Green Alternative’ sets out strategies for resolving these challenges. I’m personally impressed that The road map does not dismiss the Agricultural policies of the past. Indeed, the policy says that it is “building on the successes of the agricultural transformation agenda, closing the gap,” he said.
Osinbajo said the nation’s problem had never been a lack of policy, but of capacity to stick to the plan as well as modify when necessary and ensure the plan aligns with all aspects of the economic plan of the government.
The vice president, who hinted that the Ministry of Finance had practically concluded plans to recapitalize and re-engineer the Bank of Agriculture, said the government expected that before the end of this quarter, the bank should be ready to give single digit interest loans to farmers.