WHEN Nigeria announced recently that it had become Africa’s biggest economy, you could be forgiven for thinking that oil was the only reason.
After all, Nigeria is the biggest oil producer in Africa. What many people didn’t realise was the growing role of agriculture in boosting Nigeria’s economy and the lives of its large rural population.
However, Nigeria needs to spend much more on agriculture than its current commitment of only 1.6 per cent of the national budget. But the Agricultural Programme is already proving its potential to produce a dramatic turnaround that sets an example for other African countries, as shown in the Africa Progress Report 2014.
African economies have been growing fast in the past decade, but few of the benefits are reaching the poor, especially when the growth is fuelled by oil and mineral export, which tends to create few jobs. Agricultural growth can change that, because it reduces poverty twice as fast as growth in other sectors. Agricultural revolution is the only hope for Nigeria’s food security. The problem will worsen unless Nigeria addresses the problem of over-dependence on oil and develop the agriculture sector.
We can never go wrong with agriculture, the fast population growth and the associated increase in the demand for livestock products present many development opportunities. Livestock production will become the biggest contributor to agriculture in coming decades, with consumption of animal-based foods the fastest growing sub-food category in Africa. The key challenge is determining how to intensify livestock productivity in a sustainable manner.
Agriculture is an invariable avenue to create sustainable jobs and ensure food security in the country. The recent Federal Government agricultural policies, packages and investments in this sector in terms of agricultural credit packages to farmers and agro-products exporters demand your interest to partake in this untapped and rewarding business of food production.
However, you are herewith invited to attend JOVANA FARMS nationwide sensitisation agro-seminars designed to equip you with all the necessary requisite knowledge for a successful animal farming career and show poverty red card.
Investors should stop shunning agriculture for quick returns. We all should encourage agriculture and produce surplus food in Nigeria; so as to bring about the diversification of the Nigerian economy rather than expending billions of dollars annually on importation of food. Micro and medium scale agricultural enterprises would be drivers for achieving the goal of Nigeria beyond oil. Government should give greater support for small-scale farmers, and more locally focused production and consumption of food.
Nigeria was able to feed itself in the 1960s. But then oil was discovered.
The country began to depend on oil to drive growth and development. Yet Nigeria has abundant resources, millions hectares of arable land, two of Africa’s largest rivers and a large, youthful workforce. Our leaders should stop thinking that the survival of this country depends only on oil and gas. Countries like Malaysia, Republic of Korea, and Japan, etc do not have much minerals or solid minerals but they have very robust and thriving economy. Whereas the United States of America has oil and gas far more than Nigeria, its economy depends on agriculture, manufacturing, industry and technology.
The World Bank makes it clear that the foundation for development and for breaking the backbone of poverty is investment in agriculture. The greatest need of the poor is food; without food, life itself will be impossible. Mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion etc.
The corporate bodies can engage the army of unemployed youths who are mostly school leavers, with senior secondary school certificates and graduates of tertiary institutions. If big companies can venture into agriculture, then this country will bounce back. Nigeria is a fertile area for agriculture; but many of us abandoned agriculture for the oil and other sectors of the economy. We feel farming is only meant for our grandparents in the village.
Agriculture, in other words, can sustain our economy more than oil. One day, the oil will run out; but Nigeria will always have its fertile land, its rivers, its youthful workforce and its huge domestic market. Investing now can turn that potential into prosperity.
Jovana farms organises nationwide sensitisation training seminars on the practical ways of making it through small scale animal farming. Attend our nationwide seminars nearest to you and know more opportunities in agriculture.