President Goodluck Jonathan says the time is ripe for the diversification of Nigeria’s economy from crude oil, as global oil prices continue to decline. He added that the agriculture sector remains vital for the economy of Nigeria.
Jonathan said this at the launch of Youth Empowerment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) and Fund For Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN), held at the Banquet Hall, Presidential villa, Abuja. According to him, FAFIN will deploy $100 million towards providing affordable long-term financing to support the development of small and medium scale agri-businesses.
The president noted that the growth of the agriculture sector will help the country “save scarce foreign exchange, reduce dependence on food imports, while reviving our rural areas and creating wealth for our farmers.”
The decline in the price of crude oil regardless, the president said his administration had in the past three years been working on, and implementing a well-planned agricultural transformation agenda.
“Our massive food production efforts, which led to the production of 21 million metric tons of food in the past three years, has created a buffer and mitigated the impact of the devaluation on food prices.
“Our food import bill declined from 1.1 trillion naira in 2009 to 624 billion naira by December of 2013, and continues to decline. Our electronic wallet system, which allows us to reach farmers with subsidized seeds and fertilizers via mobile phones, has become the backbone of a more modern agricultural sector. Over 14 million farmers have received their subsidized farm inputs through the e-wallet system.
“Over 5.6. billion dollars of new private sector investments have also come into the agricultural sector, which clearly shows that local and foreign businesses see Nigeria’s agricultural sector as very viable for investments. Agriculture has become the new wealth sector for Nigeria,” Jonathan said.