The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has said agriculture can contribute more to Nigeria’s national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through agripreneurship.
Speaking during the 2021 Agripreneurship Summit with the theme – ‘Catalyzing Post COVID-19 economic recoveries through agripreneurship development’ organized by the Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigerian Universities (ADAN), Agripreneurship Academy, Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nasarawa State, the minister pointed out that agriculture had transitioned from ordinary planting of crops to a full blown business venture globally.
He noted that agriculture as an enterprise was going through global transition, assuming new shape and scope and was no longer the ordinary cultivation of crops and rearing of animals, or an enterprise for rural folks.
He said further that agriculture could contribute to social and economic development, reduce poverty index, ensure good nutrition and food security as well as lead to diversification of the economy.
The minister opined that agripreneurship is the option to adopt in the quest to make agriculture an enterprise of appeal in contemporary business engagements.
Represented by the director-general of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Onu stated that agripreneurship could be deployed to tackle the ravaging effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in huge disruptions of economic activities with significant decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), negative impact on the economy, food insecurity, social disruptions and a host of other vices.
Onu further said the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is saddled with the responsibility of facilitating the development and deployment of science and technology apparatus to enhance the pace of socio-economic development of the country through appropriate technological inputs into productive activities of the nation.
He added the efforts of the ministry to diversify the economy could only be sustainable if science, technology and innovation would be effectively developed.
In his remarks, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, hinted on the projected population explosion of Nigeria and the challenge of food and global agricultural development.
He stressed the importance of ensuring food security for the teeming Nigerian populace, adding the country is abundantly blessed hence the need to focus on resource strength available in the agricultural sector in order to feed the nation.
“Nigerians must be able to go beyond subsistence agriculture. We have to get organised, focus and put a benchmark for ourselves and for our country. Our normal hoe and cutlass ways of cultivation must give way to modern agricultural farming and I believe modern agricultural mechanization must start in this country,” he added.
In his goodwill message, the Nasarawa State governor, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, said with the calibre of personalities at the event and the theme of the conference, he was optimistic that sooner or later, a blueprint for food security would be guaranteed in Nigeria.
Represented by the deputy governor, Dr. Emmanuel Agbadu Akabe, Sule tasked the summit to look at ways of encouraging agriculture from primary school level to tertiary institutions in the country by putting it in schools’ curriculum and making it competitive in order to stimulate interest of youths.
Earlier, the ADAN president, Prof. Musibau Bamikole, expressed his gratitude to the minister of agriculture and rural development for his commitment to the agribusiness incubation centre established in their university.
Saying the project is an investment in the future of Nigerian youths, he contended there was no reason for agricultural graduates from their university to look for jobs.
Accordingly, Bamikole emphasized the need to make the project a continuity as any investment in the Nigerian youths is worth it.
“We are living today in times of great changes, the old order is crumbling fast and new ones are springing up, it is our responsibility to recognise these changes and use them for the betterment of mankind.
“We need to change the narrative; we need to start taking our agriculture as a serious business so as to encourage our youth to have interest in agriculture. It is our business to unveil the business potential in agriculture so as to stimulate their interest,’’ he added.