• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Cheap credit, policy consistency needed to boost food production – Obasanjo

Cheap credit, policy consistency needed to boost food production – Obasanjo

…says youth involvement in agric will improve security

Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has called on the government to provide cheap credit and ensure policy consistency to enable farmers increase food production in the country.

The former president’s call comes, as food inflation and nutrition security concerns grow in Africa’s most populous country.

Obasanjo made the call at the 9th Agrofood &Plastprintpack conference in Lagos, Tuesday, saying farmers in the country were yearning for consistency in policy and single-digit interest loans to drive growth in the sector and attain food security.

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“Policy sustainability and predictability is what farmers want. It helps them to plan. “Availability of finance is also what farmers want; they cannot survive on the double digital interest rate,” Obasanjo, who is also a farmer said at the conference.

According to him, food and nutrition security start with availability, then affordability by ensuring that everyone who needs food can get it. He noted that food was one of the major imperatives in life, adding that “there cannot be food without agriculture and agribusiness.”

Obasanjo further stressed the importance of agriculture in changing the fortunes of the economy, with attendant exponential gains by way of earnings, employment, food security and other spin-offs.

He noted that agriculture must be made attractive to the country’s teeming youth population, saying this would address the rising unemployment, worsening insecurity and youth migration through the Mediterranean.

“We have to make agriculture attractive to the youths. We have to think within and outside the box to make it attractive to the youths so they are willing to get their hands dirty and feet wet,” he advised.

“Part of the security issue is owing to our inability to get them engaged.” “The need for agro-food and agribusiness is for food security, employment, wealth creation and income generation, particularly foreign exchange.”

Speaking also, Wouter Plom, the ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said his country had faced challenges similar to those Nigeria confronts – feeding a growing population with limited resources.

He said as partners with a joint vision, the Netherlands and Nigeria recognise that the agricultural sector was one of the prominent drivers for economic growth.

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He noted that the Netherlands has further strengthened its partnership with Nigeria to boost the agriculture sector in three main areas- economic growth, improved diets and youth employment.

The ambassador noted that all the challenges in driving growth through the sector, improving diets and tackling unemployment can be addressed when food production is efficient.

Paul Maerz, managing director of Fairtrade Messe, said with more investment in agro-food & plastprintpack solutions, products and technologies, brighter days were ahead for Nigeria’s agriculture.