Expressing concern over the declining productivity, Nigeria’s Vice President Namadi Sambo disclosed that the agricultural production output is minimal when he said that the sector has turned the country into a net importer including major food product like wheat which accounted for N635.5 billion, rice N356.5 billion, sugar N217 billion and fish N96.9 billion.Sambo who was speaking at a two-day stakeholders conference on “Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending” (NIRSAL), organised by the Central Bank of Nigeria in Abuja
, said the fundamental structure of the nation’s economy as an import-dependent economy which is largely responsible for the continuous decline of its external reserves is not acceptable because of its negative multiplier effect on the real economy. He was optimistic that the capacity for increased output from the current level of N15.345 trillion by 160% to N39.68 trillion by 2030 is achievable.
However the Vice President expressed optimism that agriculture has the potential to sustain a more equitable income growth compared to the oil and gas sector and that the federal government is ready to invest more in developing the sector.
He said the on-going National Programme for Agriculture and Food Security serve as a platform for preparing the road-map for the implementation of all government-assisted agricultural programmes.
He said the “Commercial Agriculture Development Programme, FADAMA III, NERICA Rice Project and the IFAD-assisted Community-based Natural Resource Management Development Programme and other programmes anchored by Federal Ministry of Agriculture have yielded some positive results.”
Sambo said “sectoral analysis shows that on the average in the last five years, the agricultural sector contributed about 40% of the GDP and provided 60% of employment.” He however, noted that the encouraging growth has not sufficiently impacted on the socio-economic life of the nation as Nigeria continues to settle huge food import bills.”
Commending the Central Bank for designing NIRSAL and other interventions, Sambo said recognition that the growth of the agricultural sector gives renewed hope to every citizen as it is one of the ways that employment generation, wealth creation and food security will guarantee enduring happiness and transformation.
He noted that in 2010, the country’s economy grew by 7.85 per cent, higher than the estimated global growth of 3.9 per cent and the average of 4.7 per cent for sub-Saharan Africa, making Nigeria one of the fastest-growing economies globally. According to him, “we are determined to actualize our goal of becoming an industrialized nation, with a view to joining the league of the largest developing countries along with BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
He reiterated that the infrastructure gaps are being fixed with a determination to eradicating the perennial problems as government is rehabilitating the abandoned railway system from Lagos to Kano, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri as well as constructing new standard gauge from Kaduna to Abuja, Lagos to Ibadan. He disclosed that several dams, irrigation schemes and power infrastructure are being constructed and geared towards the development of agriculture.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) is a financial mechanism for the holistic transformation of the Nigerian agricultural landscape. Noting that for the country to be great, Sanusi said agricultural sector should be redefined as Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries are still practising subsistent agriculture and to this end a technical facility of N9.3 billion has been given to build bank’s capacity to lend to farmers which will help them in managing markets and financial activities among others.
Governors of Kebbi, Adamawa, Kano and Kaduna as well as Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Finance and Agriculture and Rural Development and major stakeholders in the banking and agricultural sectors attended the programme.