The World Bank yesterday raised the alarm that Nigeria’s food crisis had assumed a frightening dimension, blaming the development largely on poor policies of successive administrations in the country.
It regretted that the most populous black nation had fallen from its enviable position of producer and exporter of produce in the early 60s and 70s to world’s largest importer of food.
The global lender stated that the nation was “tragically living on borrowed times and being unable to feed her own citizens who are now very hungry, angry and war-threatened.”
This comes as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo assured Nigerians that the Muhammadu Buhari government was on course to reinvent the country through the agriculture and make the sector the mainstay of the nation’s economy.
Osinbajo and the Breton Wood institution both spoke yesterday at the second Sterling Bank International Agricultural Summit in Abuja attended by delegates from all continents of the world, including 40 others representing some African nations.
In his keynote presentation under the summit’s theme of “Agriculture: Your One Trillion Dollar Economy ”, the Senior Agricultural Economist for the World Bank, Dr. Adetunji Oredipe, said Nigeria was reaping the price of lack of sustenance of investment in agriculture, adding that to reverse the ugly trend, the country must henceforth invest at least seven per cent of its national agriculture budget to GDP in the sector.
The technocrat said: “These anticipated rewards and positive changes will only happen if Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses undoubtedly can receive expanded access to more capital outlays, uninterrupted electricity, modern technology and well-irrigated areas to cultivate high-value nutritious foods.
“For Nigeria, it is a great window of opportunities to harness the countless openings that exist in the agricultural value chain towards building a sustainable economy that creates hope for the realization of our much-desired national development and sustainable food security.”
He went on: “To maintain its share of the continent’s agriculture GDP by 2030, Nigeria will need to grow its agriculture sector revenues by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7 per cent. To ensure this is achieved, a national agriculture budget to GDP would have to be sustained by at least seven per cent annually.’’
The expert consequently advised the authorities to articulate a clear vision towards achieving a hunger-free Nigeria through an agricultural sector that grows income, accelerates food and nutritional security, generates employment and transforms the nation into a leading player in global food markets.
However, Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Shehuri, reiterated that agriculture remains one of the core cardinal programmes of the current administration, promising that ongoing efforts would make the sector vibrant once again.