The Federal Government has disclosed that agriculture is the best way to beat the triple problem of low foreign exchange, huge unemployment and negative growth caused by COVID-19 in line with Mr. President’s mantra ‘to produce what we eat and eat what we produce.’
With this, the government is focusing on agriculture, increasing the acreage under cultivation and engaging thousands of young people in farming and agro-allied jobs.
Also, the government is expecting the N2.3 trillion stimulus package under the Economic Sustainability Plan to bring between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland under cultivation in every state of the federation to create millions of job opportunities, directly and indirectly, over a 12-month period.
Particularly, the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari made these known in his executive summary on Nigeria’s sustainability economic plan report prepared by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC).
He noted that a significant number of Nigerians would be incentivised to engage in farming and agro-processing, as that is a field in which Nigeria has comparative advantage.
Indeed, the Economic Sustainability Committee, which is headed by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stated that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono, and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had agreed to a detailed plan of action in this regard to support Nigerian farmers’ empowerment to realise food sufficiency in the country.
The report said: “The second issue is the strategy. We decided that the best way to beat the triple problem of very low foreign exchange, huge unemployment and negative growth is by focusing on Mr. President’s mantra to produce what we eat and eat what we produce.
“This meant focusing on agriculture, increasing the acreage under cultivation and engaging thousands of young people in farming and agro-allied jobs, with a scheme for guaranteeing off-take of farm produce. This ensures that farmers are assured of an income. Other signature programmes include mass social housing, using local materials, installing solar power in five million homes, and providing assistance to daily-paid and self-employed workers – petty traders, artisans like bricklayers, vulcanisers, and electricians as well as commercial drivers and barrow-pushers.
“There is going to be a mass agricultural programme in the N2.3 trillion stimulus package for agric sector. This is expected to bring between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland under cultivation in every State of the Federation. The aim is to create millions of job opportunities, directly and indirectly, over a 12-month period. A significant number of Nigerians will be incentivised to engage in farming and agro-processing, as that is a field in which Nigeria has comparative advantage. The minister of agriculture and the CBN governor have agreed a detailed plan of action in this regard.
“Many businesses have suffered severe losses due to the lockdowns and have had to decide on laying off staff, we have developed a strategy to ensure that as many as possible do not collapse and are able to retain their staff. For other businesses – aviation, hotels, private schools, restaurants, finding it difficult to continue making loan repayments to banks, we have developed a scheme for the restructuring of their loans. For the extremely poor and vulnerable, we have increased support available under the Social Investment Programme.”
In addition, government said that the first pillar consisted of “Real Sector Measures,” and a mix of project and policy approaches, which focus on the creation of jobs across the fields of agriculture and agro- processing, food security, housing construction, renewable energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and the digital economy., adding that the aim is to safeguard existing micro, small and medium scale businesses while ramping up local productive capacity by encouraging opportunities for innovation in the various sectors.