President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday maintained that Nigeria was not taken by surprise by the falling oil prices in the international market.
He said that Nigeria in the past three years has implemented agricultural transformation to tackle any possible implication of the falling oil prices.
The President spoke at the Official Launch of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) and $100 million Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) in the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.
Jonathan noted that the implementation of the agricultural transformation agenda has led to the production of 21 million metric tonnes of food in the past three years, while it had earlier targeted to add 20 million metric tonnes of food by 2015.
He noted that a nation that cannot feed itself in the present circumstances is doomed.
He said: “The decline in the price of crude oil did not take us by surprise. For the past three years we had been engaged on a carefully designed and implemented agricultural transformation agenda.”
“Our massive food production efforts, which led to the production of 21 million metric tons of food in the past three years, has created a buffer and mitigated the impact of the devaluation on food prices.”
“The agriculture sector is vital for the economy of Nigeria. The recent decline in the price of crude oil further underscores the necessity to rapidly diversify our economy away from dependency on crude oil.”
By producing adequate food in the country, he said that Nigeria will save scarce foreign exchange, reduce dependence on food imports, while reviving rural areas and creating wealth for Nigerian farmers.
He said that within the same period, Nigeria has created three million farm jobs, expressing confidence that Nigeria will soon surpass target of 3.5 million farm jobs.
Continuing, he said: “Our food import bill declined from 1.1 trillion naira in 2009 to 624 billion naira by December of 2013, and continues to decline. Our electronic wallet system, which allows us to reach farmers with subsidized seeds and fertilizers via mobile phones, has become the backbone of a more modern agricultural sector. Over 14 million farmers have received their subsidized farm inputs through the e-wallet system.”
“Over 5.6 billion dollars of new private sector investments have also come into the agricultural sector, which clearly shows that local and foreign businesses see Nigeria’s agricultural sector as very viable for investments. Agriculture has become the new wealth sector for N