Remarks by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, at the Youth in Commercial Agri business Development Programme and the flag off of the 2012 Agricultural Season in Ekiti State. April 30, 2012.
Remarks by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Honourable Minister of Agriculture andRural Development, at the Youth in Commercial Agri business DevelopmentProgramme and the flag off of the 2012 Agricultural Season in Ekiti State.April 30, 2012. Let Nigeria be GreenYour Excellency the Executive Governor of Ekiti State, my dear brother andfriend Dr. Kayode Fayemi. I bring you warm greetings from H.E. DrGoodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic ofNigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. I am delighted, as always, to be with you. Let me use this occasion tocommiserate with you on the loss of your loving and dear mother. May Godcomfort and strengthen you. It was a big loss, but she would be happy to knowshe left a worthy son behind, one who cares for the people of Ekiti State. Your Excellency the deputy Governor H.E. Funmi Olayinka. Secretaryto the State Government. Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr.Babajide Arowosafe, and all other Honourable Commissioners and membersof the State Executive Council. Local Government Chairmen. Dynamic andresourceful farmers of Ekiti State, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I wish to congratulate the Governor and the entire State for theremarkable job that you are doing on agriculture. Your program of Youth inCommercial Agriculture, which you are launching today is very important for
Nigeria. Nigeria has 4 million youth that enter the labor market each year butare unable to find jobs. While the economy is growing at 7.8% per year, it isnot creating jobs enough.Mr. President has therefore directed that the focus of the government shouldbe on “jobs, jobs and jobs”.There is no other sector that can create jobs faster than the agriculturalsector. To unlock the potential of agriculture to create jobs, we must engagethe energy, dynamism and entrepreneurship of the youth. We are no longertreating agriculture as a development program. We are treating agriculture asa business. Our goal is to make Nigeria an agriculturally industrializedeconomy. Under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda our goal by 2015 isto add an additional 20 million MT of food to the domestic food supply andcreate 3.5 million jobs across the agricultural value chains. Subsistence agriculture is not able to feed a nation. What is needed iscommercial agriculture, which can be done by small, medium and large scalefarmers. We must modernize, to be able to attract the youth into agriculture. We must expand the level of use of tractors in the country. The countrydoes not have more than 20,000 functioning tractors. During the recentagribusiness investment forum that my Ministry organized with businessleaders in Washington DC in April, attended by the Executive Governor ofEkiti State, my Ministry initiated discussions with AGCO, the largestmanufacturer of Marcy Ferguson tractors. They will soon establish assemblyplants in Nigeria for tractors. Nigeria needs at least 300,000 tractors, to enable
our youth to get into agriculture as a business, and to expand our foodproduction.We must raise the level of use of improved seeds. Nigeria currently uses nomore than 8,000 MT of seed. The potential demand for seed in Nigeria is 1million MT. So, we are working with local seed companies, to expand theiraccess to financing to supply seeds for our farmers.We are doing so, in innovative ways. For the 2012 season, the FederalMinistry of Agriculture and Rural Development financed the entire seedsupply for the country, to the tune of 2.7 Billion Naira, without spending oneNaira of government. We used guarantees for banks to lend to seedcompanies. For the first time, many seed companies got loans from banks, atsingle digit interest rate, from a guarantee issued by the Ministry of Financeand Ministry of Agriculture.The same goes for fertilizers. In the past and for decades, fertilizers werebought and distributed by the Federal Government, through the stategovernments at subsidized prices. We found that only 11% of the fertilizersbought and sold by government ever gets to farmers. That means that some89% of farmers never get the fertilizers bought and sold by the government.The system was corrupt, inefficient and displaces the private sector.Under the present administration, we have ended all of that. The FederalGovernment has ended buying and distribution of fertilizers. As agovernment, we have moved to the use of mobile phones, called E-Wallet, totarget farmers and reach them with their fertilizers directly. The system is
being rolled out across the country from this season. Our goal is to reach 5million farmers this year, and a total of 20 million farmers by 2015.We have completed a database of farmers, which we continue to upgrade,which allows us to have information on farmers. This will reduce corruptionin the system of accessing fertilizers. We will empower real farmers, notpolitical farmers.The Federal Government was able to secure financing for the supply offertilizers for 2012, at the level of 27 Billion Naira from commercial banks,using guarantees from the Ministry of Finance. This will make loans availableto agro-dealers all across the country at 7% interest rate. Many of these agro-dealers are in Ekiti State and will be supporting the roll out of the E-wallet forfarmers.In Ekiti State, together with the State Government, we will provide subsidizedfertilizers to 60,000 farmers. The volume of fertilizer targeted for the season is3000 MT of Urea and 3000 MT of NPK, valued at a cost N690 million. TheFederal Government and Ekiti State Governments will contribute N165million each in terms of Growth Enhancement Support for farmers.We have 27 agrodealer and redemption points already across the state, wherefarmers will collect their seeds and fertilizers. Two companies, Notore andSavanah Seeds Company will be supplying fertilizers and seeds, respectively,in the State. We have completed arrangements with Savannah SeedsCompany to supply seeds of improved rice varieties NERICA 8 (upland rice
variety) and other varieties requested by farmers in the State. The seeds ofNERICA 8 are on display in 25 kg packs here today.The Federal Government will strongly support all States across theFederation in their drive to transform agriculture and create jobs. For allparts of Nigeria can produce food and do so competitively. We are working innew ways with State governments. This week, the Federal Ministry ofAgriculture and Rural Development started its decentralization of theMinistry to the states, with the appointment of 36 new directors at the statelevels. They will work closely with the states, so that together we cantransform agriculture, in partnership.I am especially pleased that H.E. Governor Fayemi has already put in placean Agricultural Transformation Implementation Committee, which he chairs,that will drive new investments in agriculture across the State.The Federal Government will support your efforts in the state on cassava,rice, oil palm, cocoa and fisheries. To further support the State government inits drive for cassava production, Federal Government will facilitate theestablishment of a large scale cassava flour processing factory, with capacityof 240 Tons per day in Ekiti State. It will be run by the private sector.In addition, we have already audited and will be upgrading 4 SMEs producinghigh quality cassava flour. To expand markets for farmers, we have concludedarrangements for the export of 500,000 MT of cassava chips to China, withtotal expected of 1 million MT. This will earn our cassava farmers and
processors up to 40 Billion Naira in income. Farmers in Ekiti State will benefitand dried chip exporters have been linked to 14 locations in the State.As we begin the cocoa season in Ekiti State, let me assure you that the FederalGovernment will be here to support farmers. We are targeting 10,000 cocoafarmers in the state. We will support farmers to have access to fertilizerblends for cocoa, fungicides and insecticides. We will distribute 3 million newseedlings of cocoa, to plant 2,700 ha of cocoa.I am happy to announce here today, that the 3 million new cocoa seedlings willbe distributed for free to farmers in Ekiti State! This will allow farmers toquickly replace their old cocoa trees with high yielding cocoa hybrids that cangive up to 500% increase in yields than existing varieties. The new cocoahybrids mature in just 24 months, compared to 50-60 months with existingvarieties. We will enroll 3,500 farmers in 100 Farmer Field and BusinessSchools.Federal Government will also support Ekiti State in oil palm value chain.Field planting target for the State is 2,063.7ha. Planting will commence in lateJuly. We will distribute 310,000 sprouted oil palm seedlings in the State.The Federal Government will also support aquaculture and fisheries in EkitiState. This year, we are targeting fish seed production of 50 million and tablesize fish production of 15,000 MT. We target fish feed production of 22,500
MT and processed fish production of 5,000 MT. We will also provide 4 fishtransport trucks with cold storage.The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is working closely withthe Central Bank of Nigeria for the roll out of a new financing framework forbanks, to support agricultural value chains. The NIRSAL initiative willreduce the risk of banks in lending to agriculture. Ekiti State will benefit fromthe program.I want to assure the good people of Ekiti State, that Mr. President stronglysupports the farmers of the State and the efforts of the State Government, aswe together work to improve the lives and livelihoods of farmers in the State.Your Excellency, Governor Fayemi, you are doing a remarkable job intransforming Ekiti State. I cannot wait to come back later in the year, towitness the bumper harvests in the State. I cannot wait to come back to seehundreds of youth being empowered here today, with their commercial farms,earning good incomes and making agriculture a commercial business.I am very proud of the youth of Ekiti State who today are going intoagriculture as a business. This is the time to revolutionize agriculture inNigeria, and the youth are the bed rock of our drive to transform agricultureas a business.
Mr. President will soon launch a massive youth in agribusiness program allacross the country that will put several thousands of youth into agribusiness.This, when launched, will be the largest such effort in Africa. I look forwardto working closely with the Governor to build on and expand the excitingyouth in agriculture initiative being launched today by HE the ExecutiveGovernor.As we flag off the agricultural season today, may our fields yield theirincrease. May our silos be filled with plenty. May children dance in our fields,as Nigeria celebrates bumper harvest this year. May Ekiti prosper and mayher farmers prosper. And may your Governor, prosper. Let the work begin!For God is with us.Let Nigeria be green!