Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo identified agriculture as a significant contributor to government coffers, boosting resource mobilization, saying all it takes is hard work and dedication from all industry stakeholders.
Osinbajo made the assertion during a conversation with a delegation from the Development Program for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, which was on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
Professor Osinbajo, who spoke after listening to a presentation on the Commission’s Framework for Sustainable Agricultural Transformation in the States, said: “Agriculture can be the solution to many of our needs in RCI and to our resource needs; it has been proven so many times that it is possible.
While referring to what was possible to achieve in the 1950s and 1960s in the agricultural sector of the regional governments of the time, the Vice-President noted that “the truth is that the difference between yesterday and today here is the political will. There is no doubt that there is a lot more information today than there was then, but someone has to have the will to do it.
“There is no doubt that any part of Nigeria, if there is enough dedication and hard work, can feed the whole country. There are smaller countries that do not have the size of a state in Nigeria that produce enough and export products to other parts of the world.
The Vice President also acknowledged the importance of private sector collaboration in agricultural transformation, but stressed the need for stakeholders to focus on research and development, noting that progress made by some countries of the world, especially in the field of commercial agriculture, were based on research. .
According to him, “obviously what will get us out of the woodwork and make us relevant in terms of exporting and even in terms of meeting local demands is commercial agriculture”.
Responding to the concern raised by the challenges in developing the agricultural value chain, the Vice President said that “there must be a way to perfect the value chain and make sure the value chain works. Actually.
“Of course, this involves logistics, transport, credit facility, etc. Much more attention needs to be paid to the functioning of this value chain. It doesn’t matter how much you produce, if you don’t work on the value chain, you will simply waste a lot of resources. »
Regarding government policy, Professor Osinbajo said: “We have worked a lot with agro-export in particular. One of the problems we face is even with the whole export process. We are tackling the problem, we have had several meetings with agro-exporters. This is one of the issues we try to pay attention to.
The Vice President, in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, commended the DAWN Commission for its efforts, noting that “the work the commission is doing is fundamental. It is a job not only for the present but perhaps for the future of the South West region and of course of the whole nation.
During the presentation by the delegation, the role of youth in agriculture was mentioned and the example of a young agricultural entrepreneur, who was part of the delegation, CEO of Smart Farm Nigeria, Mrs. Modupe Oyetoso, was cited. .
Despite initial setbacks and personal tragedy, Oyetoso has persisted and is now thriving in the agricultural sector.
Commenting, the vice-president praised her courage and praised “the great fortitude you have shown. I must congratulate you and say that we are all very encouraged by the work you have done. I hope many will hear your story and the successes that followed will be encouraged to take up commercial farming. »
Earlier in his remarks, DAWN Director General Seye Oyeleye briefed the Vice President on the efforts made over the years, noting that the commission has drawn up plans for the development of the health and education sectors. in the 6 Southwestern states.
He also cited the revitalization of cocoa production and the framework for sustainable agricultural transformation in the region, among the achievements recorded by the commission during the 9 years of its establishment.
In the presentation of the agricultural transformation plan, Abiodun Oladipo, member of the delegation, said that the commission aims, among other things, to facilitate the operationalization of the existing master plans of the food crop processing zones (SCPZ) within the framework of the general objective of transforming agriculture in the region.
She said DAWN’s collaboration with private investors will also facilitate value chain development in the production of cassava, cocoa, maize, oil palm and cotton.