Overreliance on a single export product for revenue is never a good idea. Yet that is exactly what the Nigerian government has been doing ever since the discovery of oil reserves in the 19th century. In order to diversify, the federal government is encouraging, perhaps even forcing, people into agricultural investment.
President Muhammadu Buhari himself yesterday admitted that Nigeria developed a mono-product economy, and failed to save for a rainy day. The rainy days are finally here, and the once profitable product, oil, doesn’t seem as lucrative anymore. The government is now scrambling to revive other dormant industries that have been long neglected, and the main focus is on agriculture.
A state’s Agriculture Initiative Stakeholders’ Consultative Forum was held yesterday, April 4, to discuss the aggressive agricultural investment that would help stabilize the economy. Attending were royal fathers, stakeholders and government transition committee chairmen, and the topic was to carve up a detailed plan for agricultural investment.
The largest piece of arable land identified was Oyo which had 28,545 square-kilometres of arable land. In each of the other council areas, 100 hectares would be set aside strictly for agriculture.
How Nigeria is promoting agricultural investment
As an aggressive move, all players would be involved including students, civil servants as well as the state-owned College of Agriculture, Igboora as well as other agriculture research institutions based in the state.
On Sunday, April 3, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, stated that the government would release N59.7 billion for agriculture aimed at the youth. The funds were provided by the federal government in conjunction with the African Development Bank (AfDB). The programme labelled Enable Youth Empowerment Agribusiness will provide between $25,000 to $300,000 to interested youths, including an 18-month training period. It will be available in 36 states and in Abuja by September.
The idea here is to create employment opportunities to young adults, but more importantly, divert focus from oil.
Nigeria is also prime for agriculture as there are thousands of hectares of arable land. The Nigerian government is now looking at foreign investors to come in and make use of this land. President Buhari recently met Danish Prime Minister to discuss a possible collaboration between the two countries. Which was agreeable, but with the condition that Nigeria improve its policies on agriculture as well as secure the Gulf of Guinea.
If this works out, there is potential for more foreign investment which will further boost the nation’s agricultural sector.