by Omodele Adigun
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said that agriculture presents the major opportunity of a long-term sustainable development in the country.
According to him, in spite of the current levels of unemployment, the agricultural sector remains vital to the efforts of the Federal Government in diversifying the economy away from oil.
Emefiele stated this at the weekend in Abuja during the stakeholders’ meeting on the operational framework for the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The meeting, which had in attendance the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, governors and other stakeholders, sought to consolidate the collective efforts of the monetary and fiscal authorities to diversify the economy.
Emefiele added that the outcome of the meeting was expected to significantly improve the agricultural output, drive economic growth, reduce unemployment among youths and increase national cohesion.
While acknowledging youth restiveness and unemployment, the CBN boss stressed the need for stakeholders to confront the challenges with innovative thinking, using agriculture as a fulcrum of a long-term sustainable and profitable approach.
He said agriculture has the potential for huge revenue generation and is pivotal in employment and job creation, noting that agricultural sector was the only sector that experienced growth during the outgone recession.
Ogbeh, in his address, lauded Emefiele and his team in introducing the policy on the restriction of access to foreign exchange from the forex market for the 41 items which can be produced in the country.
In his remarks, the Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, who doubles as the Head, Technical Sub-committee of AADS and Chairman of the Presidential Initiative on Rice and Wheat, also commended the efforts the CBN Governor in galvanizing rice production revolution through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
Bagudu appealed to Nigerians to support the AADS, noting that even industrialised nations have had to protect their agricultural production through tariffs and trade policy especially in areas the country has comparative advantage.
The Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, who serves as Head, Project Monitoring Sub-Committee and Chairman of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, also commended the efforts of President Buhari, the CBN Governor, Minister of Agriculture and the Kebbi State Governor for his passion for agricultural development in the country.
The Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) is an initiative that is expected to deliver at least 10,000 jobs for the Nigerian youths in each state along the agricultural value chain.
The AADS will be implemented under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and the states are expected to play vital roles in its implementation by providing arable land for farming.