President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed that with verse potentials in other sectors, Nigeria cannot afford to remain a mono economy.
According to him, no excuse will be good enough for Nigeria “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.”
President Buhari, who commissioned the first National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) Integrated Farm Estate in Suduje-Daura, in Katsina State today, July 19, said that reliance on oil had turned a draw back 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 the President, a globalized world places more emphasis on competitive edge of the economy for relevance, and that Nigeria would 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.
“As the world becomes more globalized, 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 mechanized 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.”
President Buhari said that the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) was resuscitated to meet growing needs in the agricultural sector for exploring available potentials 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 mechanization 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.
“The Integrated Farming scheme, again, opens up more opportunities for employment, and most importantly creates communal-based system that promotes food security, skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.
“I am impressed to see that this NALDA Integrated Farm Estate is purely organic and it further expresses my desire for Nigeria and Nigerians to have food sufficiency and begin to earn more foreign income through agriculture. As a government, what I am seeing here today shows my administration’s desire is genuine and realizable that our peoples’ orientation to farming can be changed for good.”
President Buhari directed all Federal Government 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.
The President expressed appreciation to Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State for providing a 100 hectare of land for the project.
He advised the governors and his counterparts in other States to provide more support to Federal Government institutions that have been mandated to work assiduously in engaging more minds and hands to turn the economy around for good.
This was even as Governor Masari thanked the President for the initiative of resuscitating NALDA, saying that agriculture had always being the strength of the Nigerian economy until the 70s.
He said with proper management of the project and a strong irrigation system the integrated farm would serve its full purpose, with benefits to the people and economy of the state.
Kebbi state Governor, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, said all the 36 states of the federation and FCT had benefited from the administration’s policy of always targeting grassroots with development projects.
He said the closure of the border to neighboring countries further demonstrated President Buhari’s seriousness in lifting the Nigerian economy, adding that Nigeria remains sensitive to the plight of neighboring countries.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, said that the financial regulatory body will start giving special attention to NALDA, while listing some of the laudable achievements of the administration through the Anchor Borrowers scheme for farmers.
“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.”