PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has declared that given the reality of the global financial situation, the time has come for Nigerians to do more than pay mere lip service to agriculture, as crude oil and gas exports will no longer be sufficient as the country’s major revenue earner.
Buhari made the declaration at an audience with Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, the Nigerian-born President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President said: “It’s time to go back to the land. We must face the reality that the petroleum we had depended on for so long will no longer suffice. We campaigned heavily on agriculture, and we are ready to assist as many as want to go into agricultural ventures.”
The President pledged that his administration would cut short the long bureaucratic processes that Nigerian farmers had to go through to get any form of assistance from government.
He told the IFAD President that improvement of the productivity of farmers, dry season farming and creative ways to combat the shrinking of the Lake Chad would also receive the attention of his administration.
“There is so much to be done. We will try and articulate a programme and consult organisations like IFAD for advise,” Buhari said, adding that foreign exchange will be conserved for machinery and other items needed for production, “instead of using it to import things like toothpicks.”
Nwanze congratulated the President on his victory at the general elections and assured him that IFAD was ready to give all possible assistance to the Federal Government and Nigerian farmers to boost agricultural production in the country.
IFAD is an international organisation dedicated to addressing issues of agriculture and poverty alleviation. It was established in 1978 and has been collaborating with Nigeria for over 30 years.