President Muhammadu Buhari has said that with more determination on the part of the federal government, the target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty cycle is realisable.
He, therefore, canvassed more synergy between government and the people, and diligence in diversifying the economy, with agriculture as the backbone to realise the goal.
The president, in a statement yesterday by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, at the inauguration of the first National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) Integrated Farm Estate in Suduje-Daura, said that Nigeria was blessed with both human and natural resources it could deploy to achieve the target.
He said: “The country is robustly blessed with good weather conditions, good soil, human and material capacity, and a resilience to make a difference by all the hardworking youths.
“We can do it, and we will do it. No excuse will be good enough to remain a mono-economy with all the challenges in oil production and fluctuating global prices when we have vast opportunities in crop and livestock production.”
He stated that reliance on oil has become a drawback on the economy over the years, with unpredictable and fluctuating global prices that made it more difficult to effectively plan budgets, implement and measure outcomes.
According to him, the mainstay of the nation’s economy remains agriculture, where the country already commands a competitive advantage, with good weather conditions for crop and livestock farming, available manpower and willingness to learn new skills, and good soil types for all season farming.
He added that a globalised world places more emphasis on competitive edge of the economy for relevance, and Nigeria will always play a leading role in the agricultural sector, with the vastness in experience, crop cultivation, animal husbandry, and more recently, a rising youth interest.
He said: “As the world becomes more globalised, countries will continue to draw from their competitive advantage to remain relevant. My belief, and it is also shared by many Nigerians, is that our country has a special advantage in food and livestock productions that we must harness and promote to feed ourselves, and build a firm structure for exportation.
“Our vision of a robust agricultural economy continues to provide amazing results. Across the country today, we are seeing rising public and private interests in agriculture, especially among the youth, and a steady migration from subsistence to commercial farming.
“With the support of public institutions, like the Central Bank and Bank of Agriculture, old tools are giving way to more mechanised styles of farming, credit lines are becoming more accessible, and farming is becoming more acceptable and fashionable. Indeed, we are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector.”
He said NALDA was resuscitated to meet growing needs in the agricultural sector for exploring available potential of job opportunities, entrepreneurship and marketing, home and abroad.
“The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) was already moribund when we assumed office. We had to resuscitate it to meet the growing needs of the country. I am happy to see that the directive to the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of NALDA, Paul Ikonne, and his management team when I launched the National Young Farmers Scheme (NYFS) in November 2020, is gradually taking shape.
“At the launch of the National Young Farmers Scheme, I recall that I told the management that I have directed that all NALDA’s abandoned farm estates be retrieved to enable thousands of our young men and women to be engaged in farming.
“This administration will be achieving agricultural mechanisation through this scheme and I am confident that Nigeria under my watch, we will achieve food security in producing most of what we eat. In good harvest years we may even export our surpluses and earn foreign exchange.”
The president commended the zeal and patriotism of the NALDA team in achieving quick and sustainable results like the Integrated Farming Estate, which had pooled the strength of men, women and youths in 13 communities and channelled them into different kinds of farming in one location.
Buhari directed all federal institutions to work in synergy in lifting and diversifying the economy, and NALDA should be given all the support it needs to expand the Integrated Farm Estate across the 109 senatorial zones in the country.
He appreciated the governors, who were at the event to witness the historic inauguration, particularly Governor Aminu Bello Masari of katsina State, for providing a 100 hectare land for the project,
The president urged them to provide more support to federal institutions that have been mandated to work in engaging more minds and hands to turn the economy around for good.
Earlier in his remarks, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, said the financial regulatory body would start giving special attention to NALDA, while listing some of the laudable achievements of the administration through the Anchor Borrowers scheme for farmers.
He said: “Your Excellency, Mr President, as you told me during the inspection and I agree with you that this is the best way to spend money. You are doing everything that is possible to bring the dividends of democracy to all Nigerians.”
On his part, Executive Secretary of NALDA, stated that the Integrated Farm Estate had a capacity for 400 birds in the poultry, 200,000 fishes, 500, 000 cows and goats, 540 litres of honey per harvest, 120 units of one bedroom apartment, clinic and a school.
Ikonne said the recycling process on the farm and domestication of tools and skills of workers would guarantee sustainability and 1, 500 farmers would be empowered yearly to start their business after learning.