Former Nigeria president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has been appointed Africa’s Ambassador for Agricultural Technology by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).
Announcing after meeting with the former president in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, during the week, the AATF executive director, Dr. Canisius Kanangire said that the appointment was informed by Jonathan’s track record of championing agricultural transformation on the continent.
Jonathan served as Nigeria’s president between 2010 and 2015 and has, since he left office after losing his re-election bid, been at the forefront of agricultural improvement on the continent.
Accepting the appointment, Jonathan said that, as a former head of state, his interest in serving the continent is driven by the interest he has in driving food security and transformation for a better quality of life in Africa.
Kanangire said Jonathan ’s commitment to uplifting agriculture on the continent was exemplified by the agricultural transformation agenda he pursued and diligently implemented in Nigeria during his tenure as president.
The agenda targeted increasing efficiency and profitability in about 12 selected key agricultural commodities – cotton, cocoa, cassava, oil palm, maize, soya bean, onion, rice, livestock, fisheries, tomato and sorghum.
As part of the new agenda, about 3.5 million new jobs were created based on the selected key products, while many more jobs were created from other value chain activities, with over N300 billion of additional income in the hands of Nigerian farmers and rural entrepreneurs. In addition, over N60billion (US$380 million) was injected into the economy from the substitution of 20 per cent of bread wheat flour with cassava flour.
Another critical element of Dr Goodluck’s agricultural legacy as President of Nigeria was his ability to cut down on the importation of food that can be produced locally, thereby, saving the nation well over N1.3 trillion per annum on the importation of foodstuff.
“Dr Jonathan was able to demonstrate in Nigeria that agriculture should be treated as a business and supported by relevant policies for the improvement of the livelihoods of our growing farming population,” he said.
According to the executive director, Jonathan is a Pan-Africanist who stands for the eradication of rural poverty and the peaceful coexistence of the continent; hence his involvement in peaceful conflict resolution on the continent.
A statement by AATF’s communications officer, Alex Abutu said in his new role, Jonathan will advocate for the advancement of Africa’s agricultural goals and economic growth through the application of innovative technologies and enhanced investment in agriculture.
“The AATF is honoured to have the former president as our ambassador, whose role will accelerate ongoing efforts to improve our agricultural terrain,’ said Dr. Kanangire.