By Sylvester Thompson
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has accepted an appointment from the African Agricultural Technology Foundation(AATF), as Africa’s Ambassador for Agricultural Technology.
This is contained in a press statement issued by Alex Abutu, the AATF Communications Officer and made available in Abuja on Friday.
Abutu disclosed that the announcement was made after Dr Canisius Kanangire, AATF’s Executive Director, after a recent meeting with Jonathan in Yenagoa.
He said that the former president’s appointment was based on his track record of championing agricultural transformation on the continent.
He quoted Kanangire as saying: ”Jonathan’s commitment to uplift 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, which include: cotton, cocoa, cassava, oil palm, maize, soya bean, onion, rice, livestock, fisheries, tomato and sorghum.”
Kanangire said that under the 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.
He said: ”Accordingly, this was with over N300 billion of additional income in the hands of Nigerian farmers and rural entrepreneurs, with over 60 billion naira injected into the economy.
”This was from the substitution of twenty per cent of bread wheat flour with cassava flour.
“Another critical element of Jonathan’s agricultural legacy was his ability to cut down on the importation of food that can be produced locally.’’
“This saved the nation well over N1.3 trillion per annum on the importation of foodstuff.’’
Kanangire said that Jonathan was able to demonstrate in Nigeria that agriculture should be treated as a business and supported by relevant policies.
He said that this was for the improvement of the livelihoods of the growing farming population.
Kanangire said Jonathan stood for the eradication of rural poverty and the peaceful coexistence of the continent, hence his involvement in peaceful conflict resolution on the continent.
”Jonathan will advocate advancement of Africa’s agricultural goals and economic growth through application of innovative technologies and enhanced investment in agriculture.
”‘AATF is honoured to have the former president as our Ambassador, whose role will accelerate ongoing efforts to improve our agricultural terrain.’’ Kanangire said. (NAN)