President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, said the vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of the poverty cycle within 10 years is achievable. President Buhari stated the above after commissioning the first National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) Integrated Farm Estate in Suduje-Daura, Katsina State. The president, in a statement yesterday by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said that Nigeria was blessed with both human and natural resources it could deploy to achieve the target. He also solicited more synergy between government and the people, and diligence in diversifying the economy, with agriculture as the backbone to realise the goal. He said: “The country is robustly blessed with good weather conditions, good soil, human and material capacity, and resilience to make a difference by all the hardworking youths. “We can do it, and we will do it. No excuse will be good enough to remain a mono-economy with all the challenges in oil production and fluctuating global prices when we have vast opportunities in crop and livestock production.” Mr. President also noted that over-dependence on oil has become a drawback on the economy over the years, with unpredictable and fluctuating global prices that made it more difficult to effectively plan budgets, implement, and measure outcomes. According to him, the mainstay of the nation’s economy remains agriculture, where the country already commands a competitive advantage, with effective weather conditions for crop and livestock farming, available manpower, and willingness to learn new skills and good soil types for all-season farming.
He said: “As the world becomes more globalised, countries will continue to draw from their competitive advantage to remain relevant. My belief, and it is also shared by many Nigerians, is that our country has a special advantage in food and livestock productions that we must harness and promote to feed ourselves and build a firm structure for exportation.
“Our vision of a robust agricultural economy continues to provide amazing results. Across the country today, we are seeing rising public and private interests in agriculture, especially among the youth, and steady migration from subsistence to commercial farming.
He added that with the steady support of public institutions, like the Central Bank and Bank of Agriculture, old tools are giving way to more mechanised styles of farming, credit lines are becoming more accessible, and farming is becoming more acceptable and fashionable. Indeed, we are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector.
“The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) was already moribund when we assumed office. We had to resuscitate it to meet the growing needs of the country. I am happy to see that the directive to the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of NALDA, Paul Ikonne, and his management team when I launched the National Young Farmers Scheme (NYFS) in November 2020, is gradually taking shape.
“At the launch of the National Young Farmers Scheme, I recall that I told the management that I have directed that all NALDA’s abandoned farm estates be retrieved to enable thousands of our young men and women to be engaged in farming.
“This administration will be achieving agricultural mechanisation through this scheme and I am confident that Nigeria under my watch, we will achieve food security in producing most of what we eat. In good harvest years we may even export our surpluses and earn foreign exchange.”
The president commended the zeal and patriotism of the NALDA team in achieving quick and sustainable results like the Integrated Farming Estate, which had pooled the strength of men, women, and youths in 13 communities and channeled them into different kinds of farming in one location.
Buhari solicited all federal institutions to work in synergy in lifting and diversifying the economy, and NALDA should be accorded all the support it requires to expand the Integrated Farm Estate across the 109 senatorial zones in the country.