The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina on Tuesday vehemently and unequivocally stated that “nothing is more important than food”.
The minister said this while addressing participants at the 19th Nigeria Economic Summit, holding in Abuja.
He noted that “a nation that does not feed itself, but becomes a threat to its own sovereign existence” warning that “growing our own food, processing what we produce, becoming competitive in export markets and creating jobs across all our economy are crucial for national security”
This warning comes after the Director General of the National Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr Frank Nweke Jnr warned earlier of the impending threat to national security posed by the importation of food into the country.
Adeshina berated the over-dependence on oil warning that “diamonds may last forever but oil does not last forever”.
“The future trajectory of earnings from crude oil does not look good” warning that other countries have found “shale oil and shale gas”.
He noted that Nigeria must free itself from over dependence on crude oil and shift its attention to agriculture “the sector where we have the greatest potential to achieve this and this is the time”.
With only 40 per cent of 84 million hectares of arable land being cultivated, 263 billion cubic metre of water, two of the largest rivers in Africa, cheap labour to support agriculture, the minister insisted that “Nigeria has immense agricultural potential”.
He further maintained that the jaw-dropping 167 million population “makes us a huge market, we must not be the market for others” adding that “we must grow our own food, we must feed ourselves, we must create markets locally for our own farmers”.
He said his ministry, through the Rapid Transformation of the Agricultural Value Chains has embarked on a major transformation of the agricultural sector to unlock the potential of agriculture and drive the economy.