Foreign exchange constraints and the availability of arable land in Nigeria have made the case for improved local agricultural production in Nigeria imperative, rather than continued importation with its significant pressure on dwindling foreign earnings of the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, gave this explanation on Thursday while receiving in his office a Russian delegation led by the Russian Minister of Agriculture who is also the Co-Chair of the Nigeria-Russia Joint Commission, Mr. Alexander Tkachev.
“The oil prices have gone down tremendously and yet large amount of foreign exchange is used to purchase food abroad and we have large arable land for agric. It won’t make sense, if you don’t use the land,” according to the Vice President in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Laolu Akande.
Prof. Osinbajo invited Russian farmers to invest in Nigeria, produce and import from here, saying “we are just 6 hours away from Europe by air. Vegetables, flour can be exported to Europe from here, even our local market here is a lot.”
Both the Vice President and the delegation, which included the Russian Ambassador in Nigeria, Ambassador Nikolay Udovichenko, Russian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Evgeny Gromyko and officials of Russian’s firm-United Company (Rusal) agreed that Nigeria and Russia should deepen the existing diplomatic relationship, especially economically.
According to Prof. Osinbajo “there is a lot of money to be made if Russian technology in agriculture is deployed locally,” adding that there are better opportunities for economic cooperation between both countries.
Speaking earlier, the Russian Agriculture Minister expressed his country’s willingness to enhance the existing trade relations with Nigeria. He observed that the Nigeria-Russia trade volume as at the end of 2015 exceeded $300 million, but added that there are potentials for improvement in the years ahead.