Elder statesman wants Nigerian agriculture revamped

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Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has called on the Federal Government to do more to revamp the agriculture sector and the economy.

Clark, who spoke in Abuja, said it had become necessary for the country to explore all available means to reposition the agriculture sector to cushion the shortfalls from oil revenue in the near future.

He also stressed that the country’s projected population explosion and the recently signed Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), were issues that Nigeria should not take lightly.

One of my greatest fears for Nigeria is the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

How do we intend to compete favourably with other African countries when most of our industries are not revived? We will simply become a dump for their commodities.

If a country like Malaysia and other countries, which were behind Nigeria in terms of export in the 60s, were able to fix their economies largely through proceeds from agriculture, then there is something Nigeria is not doing right to have lost that position.

More measures need to be put in place if the agriculture sector is to be revamped; if it is to truly contribute the required revenue to national development.’’

Clark commended the Federal Government for making the sector a major focus in its diversification bid and for the measures taken so far.

Memories

He said that poor transportation system, poor electricity supply, obsolete farming procedures due to lack of access by small holder farmers to mechanised farming tools and lack of access to credit facilities were major impediments to improved agriculture in the country.

Agriculture, which was Nigeria’s mainstay and highest contributor to the country’s GDP, lost its glory the moment oil was discovered.

“When oil was discovered, attention shifted from agriculture and Nigeria started losing its enviable position in terms of export to other countries and today we are almost nowhere in the commodity market.

“If, with very poor technological facilities, every part of the country was contributing meaningfully to the country’s GDP through agriculture in the 60s, what is stopping us with all the available technologies today from being a major player globally?

“I remember then, we had the groundnut pyramid in the North, cocoa in the West and palm oil in the East but today where are they?

“This is not to say these commodities can no longer be produced for export because our lands are still arable, but because oil has made us lazy.

“State governors, rather than leveraging on their agricultural might to improve their Internally Generated Revenue (AGR), would prefer to come to Abuja for their monthly allocations.’’