[Documents menu] Documents menu

Experts Canvass Agricultural Revolution To Boost Economy

By Adaobi Okafor, Vanguard Daily (Lagos), 27 March 2001

Lagos—In a bid to hit the projected target of six per cent growth in agricultural output in 2001 against four per cent achieved last year, the federal government has been advised to embark on an agricultural revolution whereby states could identify certain areas and improve on them.

Chief executive officer, Inter-Trust Limited, Dr. Chilo Offiah who gave this advise in an interview with Vanguard recently frowned at the non-challant attitude of government to agriculture, saying that the sector should be given more attention particularly when viewed against the fact that President Obasanjo is an established farmer.

Offiah however, suggested that Nigeria should embark on agricultural revolution programmes where states should be mandated to handle certain agricultural areas and improve on them.

According to him, eastern states should go back to palm oil production with a production target of one million to ten million bags a year. The western states should be asked to go back to cocoa producing or plantation and they should have a target.

He added that the north also should be given target in animal husbandry, groundnut-pyramid, the tuber yam seedlings and so many other things they can produce.

In the 2001 fiscal year, the economy is projected to grow by about 5 per cent compared with 3 per cent in year 2000, the projected growth of 5 per cent in anticipation of improvement in agriculture, manufacturing, and other productive ventures. Secondly, the policy thrust of the year includes stimulating of agricultural and industrial production.

However, Dr. Offiah who was also the former managing director of FBN (Merchant Bankers) Limited said that for the nation to meet the estimated target on the contribution of agriculture to economic growth, every state should go into agricultural production and specialise in whatever area it has comparative advantage.

He stated that this would enable the country to be agriculturally sufficient in the next few years as well as being able to export food to West African and Africa as a whole.

Offiah in his words, we cannot keep on depending on oil which ha been causing us a lot of problem. We have not done much in agriculture and it is a shame. At times I wonder what the Ministry of Agriculture has been doing in the past 18 months.

I want to see the ministry take initiative on his own because the ministry is quite our focus.

On a similar note, the president-general of Senior Staff Association of University Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions of Nigeria (SSAUTHRIAI), Comrade Ralph A. Adeniyi recently advised the government to emulate the advanced countries on how they are committed to developing agriculture in their countries.

Adeniyi cited example with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) based in Ibadan, but sponsored by American government.

According to him, the Institute gets more funds than all the eighteen National Agricultural Research Institutes in Nigeria. He stated that the United States of America and Japan spend over 2.4 per cent of their GDP on research and development annually while Ghana spends about 0.3 per cent on agricultural research alone.

He complained most of our relevant research projects in Nigeria have been abandoned midway, the mass exist of experts is on ht increase and many prototype technologies cannot be fully developed and commercialised because the links with industry are yet to be finally established, Adeniji said.