To change the increasing unemployment rate in the country, Nigerians must eat food produced locally, in order to create jobs for the youths whose figure has continued to grow, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
Speaking as a special guest at the annual lecture of Wilson Badejo Foundation in Lagos, entitled ‘Unlocking wealth for Nigerian farmers’ Adesina, who was represented at the occasion by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, told NaijaAgroNet that for this to change and add the creation of jobs for teeming youths in the country, Nigerians must eat what is produced by local farmers.
“We must produce what we eat and eat what we produce,” he declared.
Adesina also said at the occasion chaired by Deacon Olatunji K. Bello of Multiplex Limited, that his mission in the ministry of Agriculture is not to manage or maintain poverty in the rural areas, but to create wealth, lamenting that millions of Nigerian farmers, who for decades have toiled in hope but have been unable to get out of crushing poverty traps, hence he sees agriculture as a tool for creating wealth for millions of poor farmers.
He reiterated that creating wealth is what is at the heart of a major revolution underway in agriculture in Nigeria and in harnessing the power of the private sector, government needs to get out of certain aspects of agriculture and turn this over to the private sector in order to improve efficiency.
“We need to focus on agricultural value chains and not just on increasing production,” he advised, wondering what will happen to the increase if there are no markets and no agro processing firms that will help mop up the increased yields?
Nigerian agriculture sector, Adesina said, has potential, but no one can eat potential except if transformed into food supply to deliver nutritious food and wealth to the growing population.
To reverse this trend, Adesina urged Nigerians to buy into the current government’s vision to make Nigeria an agriculturally industrialized economy; to create wealth, jobs and markets for farmers, and revive the rural economy.
“We plan to grow the size of the agricultural sector from the present level of $99 billion per year today to about $300 billion per year by 2030. We envision a Nigeria without oil. For nobody drinks oil and nobody smokes gas,” he said.
The minister further commended the leadership of Wilson Badejo Foundation (WBF) for sustained effort in engaging the youths and offering them the opportunity to become better enlightened and second chance to contribute to the society at large.
In her remarks, the Executive Secretary, WBF, Dr. Mrs. Kenny Kemabonta, commended those who have supported the foundation in past and urged for more support because the foundation has identified more societal challenges to tackle including how to rehabilitate the so-called ‘area boys’ who now have a kingdom of their own.
Key to achieving this, she said, is more investment in youth’s development via educational scholarship, which has risen over the years, even as the foundation needs more partnership.
So far, she said about 40 indigent students have been assisted with tuition fees for this year alone.
Welcoming guest to the event, the chairman, Deacon Olatunji K. Bello of Multiplex Ltd shared his experience on investing in agriculture, which created job for over 50 youths and urged more Nigerians to invest in agriculture.
“I want to encourage us to invest in agriculture to create more jobs, especially for the youths,” he said, citing investment in trees for instance, Bello noted that yes, it may take a while to grow, but it create jobs eventually.
Nigerian agriculture graduates, he said, do have degrees, but not work experience, because there is no place conducive enough for them to work, insisting that the youth must be assisted if the Nigerian society must be a better one.
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