The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has urged Nigerians to invest in agriculture and called for the sector to be seen as a business platform and a haven for investment that would sufficiently satisfy the socio-economic needs of its practitioners and grow the nation’s economy.
He said the agro-industry is experiencing a revitalisation with dedicated government policies towards encouraging farmers and investors, as well as grow the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The minister made this known during the maiden edition of the National Agribusiness Stakeholders and Investors Summit and Nigerian Farmers Agribusiness Award, themed ‘Promoting Excellence in Agribusiness for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Nigeria’ yesterday in Abuja.
“The Federal Government is committed to industrialising the agricultural sector for increased productivity, efficiency and competitiveness across local and international frontiers.
“Government has deliberately designed agricultural investment Incentives to support high-level private sector participation. While some of these incentives are in form of tax holidays, exemptions and reliefs, there are many that leverage on specific government policies, performances of companies as well as relevant international investment treaties.
“We are integrating food production, storage, food processing and industrial manufacturing to establish the linkages necessary in the agricultural commodity value chain.
“The value chain as a development strategy considers the role of the players from food production to consumption and designed to empower the small-holder producers, ensure that processors have good quality raw materials and the consumers accept products with satisfaction.
“It is remarkable that in the past three years Nigeria has taken a leading role globally in cassava, yam, maize, palm oil and rice production. We are currently the largest producer of rice in Africa with a production level of over 9 million metric tons from 2019.
“The Federal Government is investing in the development of additional 10 large-scale integrated rice mills across the country, with a combined minimum capacity of 320 metric tonnes per day which, when completed, will enhance Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in rice production.”
He emphasised the ministry’s commitment and readiness to regularly engage relevant stakeholders in both the public and private sectors of the economy with noble and novel ideas to move Nigeria’s agricultural economy forward.
Earlier in his welcome address, the permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, represented by the ministry’s director, special duties, Mrs. Fausat Lawal, said the private sector will remain in the lead as process drivers for the agricultural sector, while the government continues to facilitate, as well as provide supporting infrastructures, systems, control processes and oversight.
He added that the forum will serve as a veritable platform to create awareness, sensitisation and interactions among our farmers, agripreneurs, investors, policymakers and other stakeholders on policy reforms, as well as other developments in the agricultural sector.
In his goodwill message, the president, Feed Industries Practitioners Association of Nigeria (FIPAN), Mr. Raymond Obiajulu, said that the association would cooperate and contribute its quota towards ensuring that Nigeria is registered on the world’s map in the area of food production.
‘’There is a need to engage the youth in the different value chains because they will bring in more innovations to the agricultural sector,” he said.
In his remarks, the president, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Mr. Ezekiel Ibrahim, said the meeting would serve as a platform for farmers, investors and other relevant stakeholders to discuss and deliberate on the revitalisation of the agricultural sector.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information, signed by Mabel Obe, a senior information officer at the ministry, said the minister, in a separate event, received in audience the Ghanaian high commissioner to Nigeria, His Excellency, Rashid Bawa, who was in the ministry to discuss bilateral cooperation in the agricultural sector.