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By NBF News
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The Federal Government has ommenced moves to reduce the nation's dependency on food importation, and also to boost industrial growth and create jobs, says Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

'Nigeria is rolling out an ambitious reform programme across its agricultural sector, aimed at cutting the country's dependency on food imports, creating jobs and generating growth', he said in an interview with the global publishing, research and consultancy firm, Oxford Business Group (OBG)

Adeshina said 'Over the next five years, we plan to add 20 million tones of additional food to the domestic food supply to create 3.5million jobs in the sector and to replace up to 40 per cent of wheat flour imports with high-quality cassava flour.

'Steps taken by the government to improve rice production should lead to the segment becoming self sufficient by 2015, producing around $2 billion in income for farmers.'

He explained that the measures which involve boosting private sector participation and improving competitiveness would form a key part of Nigeria's plans to diversify the economy away from oil.

He said that some of the reforms are already producing results, for instance, the move to privatise the procurement and distribution of fertiliser and seed.

'As a result, our private sector firms are growing and foreign direct investment is increasing,'

He expressed optimism about Nigeria banks, saying that they are well placed to support the expansion of the country's agricultural sector.

According to him, the necessary key for successful reform is to turn agriculture into a business that makes money, with a focus on investments as opposed to aid and development.

'We need to move towards focusing on particular value chains in which we have a traditional comparative advantage,' he said.

Oxford Business Group (OBG) is a global publishing, research and consultancy firm, which publishes economic intelligence on the markets of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. Through its range of print and online products, OBG offers comprehensive and accurate analysis of macroeconomic and sectoral developments, including banking, capital markets, insurance, energy, transport, industry and telecoms.