VENTURES AFRICA – Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has annouced that the country expects about 3.5 million jobs created in agriculture and allied industries by the end of 2015 via policy and institutional reforms.
The president made the announcement at a meeting with members of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on the transformation of Nigeria’s agricultural sector in Geneva, Switzerland.
The newly formed EPG Group includes influential global leaders that are expected to advise the President on actions to help achieve Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda. They will also provide a global platform to encourage investment in the country’s agricultural sector.
Members of the EPG include the co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates; Chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Kofi A. Annan; President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka; President of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), Kanayo Nwanze and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc, Mohammed Abu-Ghazaleh.
The group was joined at the Geneva meeting by the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Akinwumi Adesina; Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and other chief executive officers of global multinational and Nigerian corporations.
A statement released by the President’s Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, quoted the President saying that “Nigeria is undergoing rapid changes in its agriculture sector. We have stopped viewing agriculture as a development programme, but now as a business that can assure food security, create wealth and generate jobs.”
“Private sector investments are rising significantly as a result of our bold policy reforms. I am confident that with the support of the private sector and the donor community, Nigeria’s agriculture will further drive economic growth and unlock new opportunities for millions of our farmers and agribusinesses,” he added.
Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina had introduced the Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Action Plan (ATAP) last year to provides a comprehensive government strategy that will reduce the cost of food imports, diversify the economy and develop rural areas of the country.
The goal of the plan is to industrialise the sector by making it more productive, efficient and competitive. Over the next five years, it is anticipated that the plan will add 20 million tons of food to domestic supply and create 3.5 million jobs along the agricultural value chains.
However, the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER) on Tuesday projected a gloomy picture on the standard of living in the country despite the positive economic growth.
Speaking on Tuesday at a national policy dialogue on growth, inequality and poverty in Nigeria, Director General, NISER, Prof. Isreal Taiwo stated that a study conducted by the institute in 18 out of the 36 states of the federation in 2012 indicated that GDP growth had not impacted positively on the lives of the people as poverty and the inequality gap had increased from where it was in previous years.
According to him, “This study covers the entire country and we sampled 18 states out of 36 and we also sampled two local governments in each of the states. The study also included a survey of the Federal Capital Territory.
“From the information collected, we discovered that although the economy is growing, poverty is not reducing and income inequality is also not reducing.”