PICTURE FROM LEFT: PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN; MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, DR AKINWUMI ADESINA; CEO OXFORD BUSINESS GROUP, MR ANDREW JEFFREYS AND THE CHAIRMAN, ACCESS BANK PLC, MR GBENGA OYEBODE AT THE INAUGURAL MEETING OF PRESIDENTIAL EMINENT PERSONS GROUP ON AGRICULTURE IN GENEVA ON TUESDAY
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan said Tuesday in Geneva, Switzerland that his Administration has embarked on bold policy and institutional reforms aimed at adding 20 million metric tones of food to domestic supply and creating at least 3.5 million new jobs in agriculture and allied industries by 2015.
Speaking at the formal opening of a meeting with members of the Eminent Persons Group on the Transformation of Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector, President Jonathan said that the present administration’s objective was to build on Nigeria’s “tremendous natural resources”, reverse the decline in the agricultural sector’s productivity which followed the discovery of oil, establish domestic self-sufficiency in food and make the country “a major net exporter of food”.
“Such a shift will not only reduce the billions of dollars we spend importing basic food items, but will also create millions of jobs, especially for our youth. This shift will also drive agricultural
industrialization as more agro-allied enterprises are established to process and add value to local foods for domestic and international markets,” the President said.
He told the gathering that his Administration was wholly committed to a government-enabled, private sector driven transformation of the nation’s agricultural sector.“Government will continue to support public-private sector partnerships that reduce the costs of doing business in Nigeria especially by providing critical infrastructure such as power, water and roads. This is why my Government is developing Staple Crop Processing Zones as a new framework for attracting the private sector into areas of high food production, to process, and add value to all commodities produced in Nigeria.
“We also recognise the need to accelerate investments in research and development, and take advantage of modern technologies, including bio-technology and ICT technologies that will expand possibilities for our farmers,” President Jonathan said.
The President declared that the initiative to transform Nigeria’s agricultural sector through the private sector is already paying off with new private sector investments worth about Eight Billion U.S. Dollars now committed to agriculture.
Thanking members of the Eminent Persons Group for their support, President Jonathan said that their contributions to the positive transformation of Nigeria’s agricultural sector will not only help to achieve food security for the nation, but will also help to enhance national security by helping to create more new jobs to take millions of unemployed youth off the streets and into productive employment.
Those present at the meeting included the former Secretary-General of the United Nations and current Chairperson of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Dr. Kofi Annan, the President of the African Development Bank, Mr. Donald Kaberuka, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, the Chairman of the
Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc., Mr, Mohammed Al-Ghazaleh, Mr. Pierre Vandebeeck and Mr. Ides De Willbois.
Others were Mr. Jeff Raikes, Mr. Andrew Jeffries, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Adewunmi Adesina, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga and some Chief Executive Officers of Global Corporations and Nigerian companies.
The newly formed group is expected to advise President Jonathan on actions to ensure the achievement of the transformation of Nigeria’s agricultural sector as well as provide a global platform for encouraging investments in the sector.
Earlier ,Presidential Spokesman Reuben Abati in a press release said Global Leaders Back Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda as Nigerian President convened meeting with Eminent Persons Group to focus on investment for the country’s agriculture sector.In it Abati said President Jonathan today hosted the first meeting of Nigeria’s new Eminent Persons Group (EPG). The newly formed group of influential global leaders will advise the President on actions to help achieve Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda as well as provide a global platform for encouraging investment in Nigeria’s growing agricultural sector.
Members of the EMG include Bill Gates, co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kofi A. Annan, Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agriculture Development and Mohammed Abu-Ghazaleh Chairman and CEO of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. Joining the EPG at the Geneva meeting were the Honorable Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Akinwumi Adesina, CON, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and other chief executive officers of global multinational and Nigerian corporations.
“Nigeria is undergoing rapid changes in its agriculture sector. We have stopped viewing agriculture as a development program, but now as a business that can assure food security, create wealth and generate jobs. Private sector investments are rising significantly as a result of our bold policy reform,” said President Goodluck. “I am confident that with the support of the private sector and the donor community, Nigeria’s agriculture will further drive economic growth and unlock new opportunities for millions of our farmers and agribusinesses.”
Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Action Plan (ATAP), introduced last year by the Honourable Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, provides a comprehensive government strategy to reduce the cost of food imports, diversify the economy and develop rural areas of the country. The goal is to industrialize the sector making it more
productive, efficient and competitive. Over the next five years, it is anticipated the plan will add 20 million tons of food to domestic supply and create 3.5 million jobs along the agricultural value chains.
“We ended decades of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sectors of Nigeria within just three months of this administration. We also introduced the use of electronic wallets to deliver subsidized inputs directly to farmers through their cell phones, reaching 1.2 million farmers. Our policy reforms and incentives have attracted eight billion dollars of private sector investment commitments so far,” said Adesina. “Based on our success, Nigeria’s agricultural transformation agenda will be a model for the rest of Africa to address food security and drive economic growth.”
“What Nigeria is doing in its agriculture sector is an example for the rest of Africa. That is why the African Development Bank is strongly supporting this agricultural transformation agenda. The political will is strong and the Minister is driving innovative ideas for change,” said Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank. “We will support Nigeria to further develop its agricultural infrastructure to ensure a positive investment climate for agribusiness.”