In his address to the Nigerian Nation in the early hours of Friday morning, marking the occasion of Democracy Day, President Muhammadu Buhari opined that Agriculture could very well be the way out of a decreasing funds reserve for Nigeria.
“Agriculture remains the key to our economic diversification strategy”, he stated.
Nigerian crude oil prices in April extended its slide, crashing to its lowest in over two decades due to a terrible combination of very low global demands and concerns that global storage facilities are rapidly running out.
Nigerian stocks in March headed for five straight days of losses to a new four-year low, and a fall in oil prices to just over $30 per barrel.
A rising external debt and a depreciating currency pose solid threats to economic stability in the country of more than 190 million people. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy in terms of GDP (gross domestic product).
In a bid to diversify the Nigerian economy and straighten the curve, President Buhari revealed that the textile and cotton industry will get a facelift;
“Government is also revamping the cotton, textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports”, he said.
Speaking on other Agricultural initiative currently underway;
“The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme continues to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertilizers to our farmers. This initiative has also revived 31 blending plants and created a significant number of direct and indirect jobs across the value chain”.
On Nigeria’s food security initiative-— “Grow What You Eat”.
“Through the food security initiative, we are promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow”. I am also delighted that more and more Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the agriculture and agri-business sector. I assure you that government will continue to support the Agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and similar schemes”.
Buhari further promised security for farmers in the face of an upsurge of banditry and herdsmen attacks:
“To protect our farming investments, we have deployed 5,000 Agro-Rangers and employed 30,289 in our para-military agencies.
We are also integrating rural communities to the formal economy by extending access to credit and inputs to rural farmers and building feeder roads”, he said.
“Our efforts on growing non-oil exports have started to yield some results. For instance, in the past year, our revenue from Cocoa and Sesame Seed increased by $79.4 million and $153 million”.
Buhari noted that Africa presents a huge opportunity for Nigeria’s proposed export base diversification. Adding that strategies to develop and grow intra-Africa trade through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement are underway.
President Buhari further noted that Nigeria has risen by 25 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking from 146th to 131st and is now rated as one of the top ten reforming countries.
This development, according to the Nigerian President, is due to the Visa on Arrival policy, consistent promotion of initiatives that expand facilities available to Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, robust electronic registration and payment system, seamless processing of business registration and reduction of cost of registering business by 50%.
“We are confident that on-going efforts would result in further improvement of this rating”, he added.