President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that Nigerian rice and wheat farmers would benefit from a N40 billion fund set aside by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) towards ensuring that the country was able to improve on local food production and feed itself.
Buhari made the disclosure during his remarks at the annual Bola Tinubu Colloquium tagged ‘Agriculture: Action, work, revolution’ and regretted that the country, which should have been self-sufficient in food still spends much on imports in the face of the dwindling foreign exchange.
“In the last two years, Nigeria spent $11 billion importing rice, sugar, wheat and sugar, this is why this administration is focusing on import substitution and food security,” he revealed.
“We intend to also ensure that the market is fair and worth to transform small-holder farmers from beggars to businessmen.
“Furthermore, we are going to keep focusing on improved nutrition for children. We know the effects of hunger and poor nutrition can last a lifetime. Children are thrown out of school to earn a living,” the President said.
“The need to focus on the current critical challenges confronting the nation in the area of import substitution is what necessitated the CBN to set aside the fund for rice and wheat farmers to access.
“We have to produce what we eat, we now have nine rice producing states, and we will support development and the investment in the sector.
“We will therefore hold ourselves responsible because entrepreneurship is worthy of being considered at this point in time. All hands must therefore be on deck in employing new approaches in tackling the situation at hand.
“In the coming months, Nigerians will see much more actions. Government will continue to invest substantially in human capital development and this is just the beginning.
“We are going to hold ourselves accountable. We will measure results. There will always be some scepticism; some have even become disorientated and impatient enough to think that barriers are insurmountable. Anyone who claims great change is impossible can only look as an ordinary success.
“I am declaring that we need a new approach that challenges more states and local governments, more organisation, companies and non-governmental organisations and individuals, some of the younger people who are here to step up and play a role because government cannot and should not do it alone. All hands should be on deck.”
The President also commended the organizers of the Bola Tinubu Colloquium for the choice of the theme of the event on agriculture saying that the government intends to create a positive environment that would encourage the economic potentials of the private sector.