Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The 'bold' reforms of Nigeria's agricultural and allied sectors will create 3.5 million jobs and add 20 million metric tons of food to domestic supply by 2015, according to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking at the formal opening of a meeting with members of the Eminent Persons Group on the Transformation of Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector, in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, President Jonathan said 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 industrialisation as more agro-allied enterprises are established to process and add value to local foods for domestic and international markets,” the President said.
According to the presidency, 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 US$8 Billion now committed to agriculture.
Those present at the meeting included the former UN Secretary-General and current Chairperson of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa Kofi Annan, President of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development Kanayo Nwanze, the Chairman of the Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc., Mr. Mohammed Al-Ghazaleh, and top Nigerian government officials.
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.
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