The Federal Government of Nigeria has inaugurated a roadmap for the agriculture sector, tagged: “The Green Alternative: Agriculture Promotion Policy, 2016-2020.” Speaking on Monday in Abuja at the occasion, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said the vision was to revive the agric sector to boost food production in the country.
According to Ogbeh, the policy would serve as the new fulcrum for economic diversification, inclusive growth and sustainable development in agric sector.
He said: “The launch of the ‘Green Alternative’ is an attestation that the change that the overwhelming majority of Nigerians canvassed for and openly welcomed by giving Muhammadu Buhari a resounding victory in the last presidential election is here.
“In this policy, you will see us navigating through the agricultural terrain, trucking on virtually every aspect, we launched on the human element. We will reflect on years of neglect where agriculture was seen as a refuge for the wretched and unsophisticated.”
The minister explained further that the emphasis on “Green” would capture the essence, spirit and orientation of the new policy/strategy document.
“The emphasis on green is deliberate; it is to underscore, not only the imperative of building a strong, vibrant and resilient economy, but also a green refreshing, generating, transformative-agriculture-led economy.
“It is to ensure mutual complementary between efficient, effective and productive agricultural production, system and processes on one hand and environmental sustainability, Ogbeh said.
He noted that the policy had five major strategic driving forces, namely: achievement of self-sufficiency and sustainable food security, reduction in import dependence and economic losses, particularly through value addition.
Others, he added, were stimulation of agro-exports for enhanced foreign exchange earnings, enhancement of wealth and job creation, especially provision of employment opportunities for the teeming youths. The minister also said achievement of economic diversification to make the economy less oil-dependent was among the driving forces of the green policy. Ogbeh stressed that, through the policy, farmers would have access to land, soil fertility, information and knowledge, inputs, production management, storage, processing, marketing and trade, including access to finance.
Others are promoting agribusiness and ensuring investment development, institutional setting and roles, youth and women, infrastructure, research and innovation and nutrition security.
Minister of State for Agriculture, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, explained that agricultural policy over the years had focused on conventional paradigm of harnessing the sector’s potential to provide sufficient food for the growing population.
Lokpobiri, who was represented by Shehu Ahmed, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said effective implementation of the policy required a systematic collaboration among the stakeholders.
“One significant element of this desire is the relevance and suitability of support institutions as an integral process of facilitating the consultative, entrepreneurial, coordinating and regulatory roles in the nation’s development process.
“In this regard, government’s responsibility is to continuously put in place measures that will restructure, re-orientate and strengthen the relevant national institutions as well as utilise the opportunities offered by international cooperate bodies,” he said.
According to him, this is to embrace the challenges of intensifying the integration of the country’s development goals into the liberalisation principle of the world economy.
Kabir Ibrahim, President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), commended the ministry for the policy, saying it would go a long way in assisting farmers to boost productivity.
“The Nigerian farmers are seeking more availability of fertiliser, timely application of the research finding, adoption of good science and technology, provision of good seeds and small irrigation facility for all-year-round farming,” he said.
Ibrahim urged both states and local governments to key into the policy to enable the nation achieve self-reliance in food production.