From Okwe Obi, Abuja

The Federal Government has once again, reiterated its determination to strengthen the economy through agriculture.

Director of Agribusiness and Market Development, A.M. Adebiyi, stated this yesterday at a one-day seminar/exhibition, titled: “Reorientation Towards Ensuring Preference and Consumption of Domestic Agro-Allied Products,” organised by Zacklair Investment Limited with support from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“FMARD is committed to a robust and sustainable agricultural sector and vibrant economy with a stable and viable economic climate for local and foreign investments.

“This federal government has deliberately designed agricultural investment incentives to support high level private sector participation.

“While some of these are in forms of tax holiday, exemptions and reliefs, there are many that leverage on specific government policies, performances of companies as well as relevant international investment treaties.

“This would boost ease of doing business for all MSMES within and outside the country,” he said.

To achieve this, Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, urged Nigerians to purchase and consume local products.

Adesina, represented by the special assistant on new media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Tolu Ogunlesi, said Nigerians must believe more in their value chain.

“We must believe more in our values and what we produce locally. We have turned the word local to a judgement on quality. That should not be so. Local does not mean inferior or worse quality. It only means indigenous products.

“So, we must promote self confidence and innovation. Our forefathers took mangoes as fruit. Later, we had mango juice and even dried mango packages today.

“We must be willing to innovate our local products so that we can get a wider market for them. So, innovation and packaging is important to make it more appealing to the people.

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“Instead of spending scarce resources importing, we should consume the ones at home.

“How can we import tomatoes when they are wasted in Nigeria? It means we are burying jobs. The economic value will be in the jobs that will be created, but we must improve in marketing, packaging, production. More jobs will be created if more people go into production of equipment.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of Zacklair Investments Limited, Adelabu Abdulrazak, said in the past, they initiated discourses in national life ranging from security, stimulation of the economy, agricultural development and food production.

He said: “With our critically ailing economy there is the need to direct the compass of our national discussion to our preference and consumption lifestyle where we have shown disdain to made- in-nigeria products, particularly the agro-allied sector, where as a nation we have a comparative advantage.

“Our inability to deal with this attitude and behaviour has kept us persistently on the nadir of development.

“Consequently, we believe there is a need for a discourse in this aspect of our national life, with the aim to infuse patriotism, encourage policies that tackle this lifestyle, re-orientate our citizens and massively stimulate the growth of our economy.

“It is to this that the theme of the seminar is couched as “Re-orientation Towards Ensuring Preference and Consumption of Domestic Agro- allied Products.

“Furthermore, efforts were made to strategically select resource persons, panelists and discussants for robust deliberations.

“There is therefore no doubt that the calibre of personalities and egg heads present in this seminar will discuss and enlighten the participants on the necessity of curbing this negative aspect of our national life.

“It is our hope that the suggestions from the seminar will not be swept under the carpet but will go a long way in setting necessary measures to revamp our economy.

“In addition, this address cannot be complete, without appreciating the support and interest of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) for their assistance in realizing this noble idea. We are very grateful.”