Nigeria Canvases for Investment in Agriculture

altThe Nigerian government has stated that poverty alleviation, the eradication of hunger and realizing the goals of the MDGs are dependent on increased investment in agriculture and rural development.

 This was the country’s statement at the World Summit on Food Security that

was held in Rome, Italy. Taking a look at the global food and economic situation, the statement said financial and economic crises have combined forces to send more people into the poverty bracket, “the projected growth in the number of hungry people is threatening the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with the likelihood of even reversing the development gains made over the last decade”.

It is therefore incumbent on the well-off nations, especially the G8, to go beyond promises and act to save the worsening situation in less developed nations. The statement revealed that of the $8 billion pledged as aid for 2008 by the rich nations, only $1 billion was released. It would be recalled that at the L’Aquila Summit earlier in the year, the G8 also made a pledge to mobilize $20 billion as aid to developing nations over a period of three years.

The statement read by Minister of National planning, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman said that if the pledges are redeemed there would be a significant improvement in the level of achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

He said on her part, Nigeria has made massive investment in agriculture such that 12% of 2009 budget is allocated to agriculture. This is over and above the Maputo declaration which recommends 10% of annual budget as allocation to agriculture. Moreover, Nigeria is not particular about aid but meaningful partnership. The country’s doors are open to foreign investors desirous of participating in the new projects aimed at agric development in Nigeria.

 

The Nigerian representative at the summit further said Nigeria has adopted a holistic approach to the development of agriculture by adopting policies which take the agric value chain as an integral whole. In this he listed the provision of market infrastructure, processing and storage facilities, provision of essential agric input and services as the cornerstone of   the new trend. “Our investment in agriculture and water resources development is already beginning to show results; for example, Nigeria’s GDP increased by about 6.0% in the first half of 2009 with agriculture contributing almost half of the GDP growth rate”. He also revealed that implementation of the various policies and projects is based on a robust private sector partnership which seeks to create the platform for commercialized agriculture.

 

The Nigerian delegation to the Summit includes Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, National Planning Minster who represented the President, Honourable Gbenga Makanjuola, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze, Minister of State for Agric and Water Resources, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the FAO, Dr. Yaya Olaniran, Mr.  Dolapo Osunmakinde, Acting Head of the Nigerian Embassy, Rome, among others.

 

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