Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government was working on a credible plan to get Nigeria out of poverty in spite of limited funds available to the country.
Osinbajo said this on Thursday at the State House Old Banquet Hall, Abuja, were he inaugurated the Nigeria-Brazil Agricultural Development Programme tagged `The Green Imperative.’He said ‘It is a special privilege for me to host you all to the launch of the “Green Imperative”, our agriculture mechanization project in collaboration with the Brazilian government. The project is crucial to our signature focus on agriculture as the centerpiece of our economic diversification efforts. Practically everything you have heard about the Buhari administration has centered round agriculture, and I’m sure that we are going to hear a lot more about this focus on agriculture.
‘Frankly, we believe we cannot bring our nation out of poverty, especially the large numbers of the poor without significant investments in agriculture and, of course, mechanized agriculture. But also because we know the sheer number of young people who are coming into our population in the next 10 – 15 years, will certainly not only need to be fed, but will also need to have jobs, and the sort of jobs that these young people will want will not be jobs requiring hoes and cutlasses. They are going to want jobs that are more dignified and of course, jobs that would mean a decent wage and living.
‘This explains our focus on agriculture and especially the agro-allied value chain. It is this value chain we believe that this particular project will service, and this is where we think the game changer for this agricultural development lies.
‘With mechanized agriculture, everything suddenly becomes different, because even now, we have been able to do a lot more in terms of rice production and several other grains without mechanization at the level it ought to be.
‘Today, we are producing paddy rice as much as we need but milling and the other processes are where we fall short. So we are not able to produce and mill all of the rice that we require, but that is only a matter of months.
‘The key thing today is that with mechanization, whatever it is that we are able to do; we will be able to do in multiples. I think that portion of it is extremely important for us.
‘I think the only way we can make the quantum leap that is required, in order to advance our economy and provide the number of jobs we require, is simply what we are doing today.
‘As we have heard, there will be a combination of service centers where technical capacity and training will occur, to the local assembly of tractors and other agricultural machines, and we will also have processing centers where agro processing will be done.
‘The major dividends of all of this are the hundreds of thousands of quality jobs, that young men and women will be able to access.
‘We also know one of the reasons why young men and women do not warm up to agriculture in the way that they ought to and why we have such an aged farmer population is because it just isn’t attractive. But I know that from now on, all of that is certainly going to change and our young men and women would be far more interested in agriculture than they have ever been.
‘Also crucial is the private sector, an important component of this enterprise. When you hear about government projects, people tend to think that with the way government works sometimes, you don’t want to entrust all of these kinds of activities to government. But we have ensured that this will be private sector driven and we have here today, both Nigerian and Brazilian investors committed to investing and working on this project.
‘So we expect that this will be collaboration not just between the governments of Nigeria and Brazil, but also between Nigerian businessmen and Brazilian businessmen.
‘Let me therefore thank the Brazilian government through Ambassador Ricardo de Araujo, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, who has encouraged many of us to go into farming.
Mr President clearly set forth our agricultural agenda from day one. To quote him: “we must produce what we eat.” We have to be self-sufficient in food
‘Today, the President’s dream has moved closer to realization and in the next few years by God’s grace, with this project, we will with our own brains and innovation and the collaboration of our friends, especially our Brazilian friends, will realize the dreams of our people not only to produce our own food, but also to employ every able Nigerian, not just in agriculture, but in all of the agro-allied value chain and manufacturing also.
‘On this note, it is therefore my very special pleasure and privilege to launch the Green Imperative.’