By BLAISE UDUNZE
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, on Tuesday vehemently and unequivocally stated that agriculture is the sector, which has the greatest potential to drive the economy among top 20 economies.
The minister, who disclosed this while addressing participants at the 19th Nigeria Economic Summit, berated the over-dependence on oil warning that, “diamonds may last forever but oil does not last forever.”
He noted that “a nation that does not feed itself 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.”
Adesina’s arguement came after the Director General of the National Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr., highlighted earlier the impending threat to national security posed by the importation of food.
“The future trajectory of earnings from crude oil does not look good,” Nweke Jnr said, stressing 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 metres of water, two of the largest rivers in Africa, cheap labour to support agriculture, the minister insisted, “Nigeria has immense agricultural potential”.
He further argued 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.”