By: Tunde Oyekola, Osogbo
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said that Nigeria will stop importation of Rice in December this year.
Chief Ogbeh who disclosed this in Osogbo today during a visit to the state said it is unfortunate that Nigeria is still spending billions of dollars on food importation, thus calling for massive collaboration and partnership between and among the various authorities to revamp agriculture.
“By December this year we will stop the importation of rice into the country, its a pity that as a nation we spend about N5 million dollars on the importation of rice on a daily basis.
“We have no choice in this country now but to get back to the land and begin to till the land to be able to free ourselves and the land from poverty because oil and gas can no longer do it.
“Our dreams of big foreign exchange earnings must stop and its a pity that all our revenue is being spent on servicing debts.
“In Osun there is a lot of potentials through various crops, just two crops alone are enough for Osun to make over three billion dollars in a month.
“We have to find extraordinary means to make agriculture work in this country because by 2050 Nigeria’s population would have risen to about 450million and we have to quickly begin to look for means to be able to feed ourselves by then”, the Minister stated.
While expressing readiness to partner Osun in her efforts to enhance agriculture potentials, Chief Ogbeh said the ministry has mapped out strategy to collaborate with the state on piggery production, cocoa production, cassava, cashew, cattle and lot more.
The Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola while calling for massive participation of Nigerians in agriculture said the present economy has left Nigerians with options of either to develop or destroy, thus calling for massive participation in agriculture.
The Governor who lamented on the present nation’s economy, said agriculture has shown to be the only sector that has capacity to deliver the nation from her current economic bondage.
Aregbesola attributed the current recession to inability of Nigerian people to promote agriculture, saying it is high time for every reasonable government to invest largely in agriculture.
He said all the reasonable, responsible and progress-seeking nation’s are looking for alternative to oil to fuel their engines for industrial process, a development which he said will bid a farewell to oil production in the world.
According to him, alternative to oil is a quest of all nations. A time is coming when oil will no longer serve the mono-economic that it serves now, thus, Nigeria must come to that grim reality that in 25 years to come, there will not be revenue from oil.
“So, considering development, the only viable alternative is to till the land for massive agriculture to ensure better economic alternative.
“We all need to go back to the land. Let us start by feeding ourselves. We don’t need to wait till we get machineries. Let us develop spirit of farming. Farming is the only way to economic prosperity of the Nigerian nation.
“Let’s do whatever we can do as individuals, groups and governments to promote agriculture. Desperate situation calls for desperate solution.
“It is quite unfortunate that in spite of recession, our nation could not feed itself as we depend largely on importation. It is unfortunate that we borrow money to feed ourselves not to implement infrastructural projects again,” He stressed.
Governor Aregbesola said it is high time for all to see land as the most valuable entity given by God to salvage themselves and develop the nation.
“With the rate at which things are going in Nigeria, we are going towards a position whereby we will be left with just two choices, we will have to decide weather we are to face development or to face disaster.
“The prediction for the viability of oil is not more than twenty five years from now, all reasonable and progress-seeking nations of the world are looking for alternative as a means of fueling their engines. So, oil will no longer be viable.
“Oil will no longer serve the mono-economic purpose it is serving in about 25 years from now, the only real and viable alternative to our nation is to till the land and bring out wealth.
“There is no part of this country that the land is not viable, we all need to go back to the farm and start by even trying to first feed ourselves.
“We all need to start developing a new attitude to food production, we need to food production on the front burner and try to build the capacity to feed ourselves convenience.”
The Governor listed the various strategies employed by his government to make agriculture much more attractive especially to the younger generation.
He said the strategies have worked and Osun has been reaping the fruits in forms of increased activities in the food production sector.
The Governor said massive supports for farmers, modern technological trainings for enhanced yields, provision of improved seedlings and engagement and encouragements in forms of loans and lands with provision of access roads to farming communities in the state have all helped to bring farming into focus.