The World Bank, on Thursday, dropped a bombshell that Nigeria was dying slowly and tragically living on borrowed time due to the perennial neglect of the agricultural sector and relying heavily on crude oil that belongs to yesterday.
This is as the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo assured that the Buhari administration will ensure an export based economy, especially as it recognises the importance of the agriculture sector to food security, job creation and poverty reduction. He said the sector remains one of the priority areas of the government that has attracted various intervention programmes under the Agricultural Promotion Policy.
The Senior Agriculture Economist, World Bank, Dr. Adetunji Oredipe, who made the disclosure in Abuja while delivering a keynote address at the agriculture summit Africa sponsored by Sterling Bank Plc, said economic diversification into agricultural should be in practice not theory as the economy has become increasingly dependent which has proven to be both a “disaster and calamity.” According to him, if Nigeria had held to its market share in palm oil, cocoa, groundnut and cotton, the country would be earning at least $10bn annually from these three commodities.
The event was attended by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was represented by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development,Mustapha Shehuri; Minister of Women Affairs Mrs Paulen Talen; Governor of Kebbi State Atiku Bagudu; Chairman of Sterling Bank Plc, Asue Ighodalo; and the Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc Abubakar Suleiman.
Analysing a gloomy picture of the country’s agricultural sector, the World Bank Agric Economist said that Nigeria is now one of the largest food importers in the world. He said: “In 2016 alone, Nigeria spent $965m on the importation of wheat, $39.7m to import rice and $100.2m on sugar importation.
He added that the decision to spend $655m on fish importation seems financially irresponsible given all the marine resources, rivers, lakes, and creeks in Nigeria. He noted: “None of the above transactions (importation of rice, fish, sugar) is fiscally, economically, or politically sustainable. Nigeria is tragically is living on borrowed time, a typical case of robbing Paul to pay Peter.
“For instance, each time we spend money to import rice, Nigerian local rice farmers are negatively affected in terms of morale, sales, and realizable income. He lamented that despite the huge agricultural potential, Nigeria which used to be the major player in agriculture in the world has lost its place in the global community.
He said, “In the 1960s we had glory. That glory was visible and significant for the global community to recognize and applaud. Nigeria accounted for 42 per cent of the world’s exports of shelled groundnuts. Our total export volume was 502, 000 MT. News Epress