Remarks by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, at the Youth in Commercial Agriculture Development Programme and the flag off of the 2012 Agricultural Season in Ekiti State. April 30, 2012.
Let Nigeria be Green
Your Excellency the Executive Governor of Ekiti State, my dear brother and friend Dr. Kayode Fayemi. I bring you warm greetings from H.E. Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
I am delighted, as always, to be with you. Let me use this occasion to commiserate with you on the loss of your loving and dear mother. May God comfort and strengthen you. It was a big loss, but she would be happy to know she left a worthy son behind, one who cares for the people of Ekiti State.
Your Excellency the deputy Governor H.E. Funmi Olayinka. Secretary to the State Government. Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Babajide Arowosafe, and all other Honourable Commissioners and members of the State Executive Council. Local Government Chairmen. Dynamic and resourceful farmers of Ekiti State, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I wish to congratulate the Governor and the entire State for the remarkable job that you are doing on agriculture. Your program of Youth in Commercial Agriculture, which you are launching today is very important for Nigeria. Nigeria has 4 million youth that enter the labor market each year but are unable to find jobs. While the economy is growing at 7.8% per year, it is not creating jobs enough.
Mr. President has therefore directed that the focus of the government should be on “jobs, jobs and jobs”.
There is no other sector that can create jobs faster than the agricultural sector. To unlock the potential of agriculture to create jobs, we must engage the energy, dynamism and entrepreneurship of the youth. We are no longer treating agriculture as a development program. We are treating agriculture as a business. Our goal is to make Nigeria an agriculturally industrialized economy. Under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda our goal by 2015 is to add an additional 20 million MT of food to the domestic food supply and create 3.5 million jobs across the agricultural value chains.
Subsistence agriculture is not able to feed a nation. What is needed is commercial agriculture, which can be done by small, medium and large scale farmers. We must modernize, to be able to attract the youth into agriculture.
We must expand the level of use of tractors in the country. The country does not have more than 20,000 functioning tractors. During the recent agribusiness investment forum that my Ministry organized with business leaders in Washington DC in April, attended by the Executive Governor of Ekiti State, my Ministry initiated discussions with AGCO, the largest manufacturer of Marcy Ferguson tractors. They will soon establish assembly plants in Nigeria for tractors. Nigeria needs at least 300,000 tractors, to enable our youth to get into agriculture as a business, and to expand our food production.
We must raise the level of use of improved seeds. Nigeria currently uses no more than 8,000 MT of seed. The potential demand for seed in Nigeria is 1 million MT. So, we are working with local seed companies, to expand their access to financing to supply seeds for our farmers.
Last modified: April 30, 2012