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Nigeria transforming into global agric power house, says FG

By The Rainbow
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Minister of National Planning and Chairman National Planning commission, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, has said the nation's agricultural sector is being rejuvenated.

According to him, with the renewed focus on agriculture the country has the potential of transforming into a global agricultural power house.

'For the first time, an agricultural transformation agenda has been developed and is being vigorously implemented by the government. The agricultural sector is also to play a critical role in the realisation of the objectives of the transformation agenda,' he said.

Shamsuddeen, who spoke last Friday  at a press conference on the 19th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES), said the sector contributed an average of 40 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2011 and 2012.

The sector, which currently employs about two thirds of the entire labour force, has sustained its position as the highest contributor to non-oil GDP,  contributing 47.17 percent in 2011 and 45.49 percent in 2012, he added.

'With an average GDP growth rate of 7 percent in 2011 and 2012 and 6.56 percent in the first quarter of 2013, the prospects for Nigeria are huge, in the immediate and near term,' Usman said.

In his view,  this year's summit is unique as it marks the 20th anniversary of the annual NES and it is the first time the summit is focusing on a single sector of the economy.

According to the minister, the focus on agriculture is  not only for the critical importance of the sector, but also because of its pride of place in the government's transformation agenda and Nigeria's long-term vision 20:2020.

'The summit would present the opportunity for major domestic and global leaders to discuss the ongoing reforms in Nigeria's agricultural sector, with focus on improvement in infrastructure, agro-processing zones, financing and an enabling policy environment which are central to the full exploration of the agricultural value chain, the attainment of food security and employment generation and wealth creation,' he said.

The 3-day annual summit, slated for September 3 - 5, 2013 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, will focus on 'Growing Agriculture as a Business to Diversify Nigeria's Economy' as its theme.

The theme of this year's summit, said Usman, is clearly a call to action by all, if we are to successfully diversify Nigeria's economy for enhanced growth and development, adding that it had been established that the agricultural sector has the largest potential to diversify the economy, create jobs, secure food supply, lower inflation and expand foreign exchange earnings for the country.

Foluso Phillips, chairman, NESG, said each time they considered what to put forward as a value proposition for the country what came up was agriculture and not oil or telecommunications.

'We then decided that it is time we began to get a deep dive into a specific area. Agriculture is one particular sector in which we can engage a lot of Nigerians and industrialise Nigeria. We are going to give attention to all the issues affecting the whole value chain of the agricultural sector.'