Nigeria agric potential may hit N78tn by 2030
//Godwin Ekosin, Kaduna//
Professor Wilfred Ifeanyi Okonkwo of University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), has said Nigeria agricultural potentials will be worth $256 billion dollars (about 76.8 trillion) by 2030, if properly harnessed and diversified.
The varsity don added that most of the projected revenue is expected to come from diversification of high value crops include cocoa, palm oil, groundnut, rubber, cotton and several others too numerous to mention.
The UNN Professor of agriculture quoted the International Food Policy Research Institute report, that the value of agriculture in Nigeria in 2010 worth $99 billion, while Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report on Competitive Commercial Agriculture for Africa shows that Nigeria and Mozambique have vast arable land that can become the food basket for the rest of the world, if only there is political will.
The Agriculture expert, who stated this while delivering the 32nd Combined Convocation and Diamond Jubilee Pre-Convocation Lecture at the Kaduna Polytechnic titled “Agricultural Reforms: A Panacea for Diversification of Nigeria Economy” in Kaduna at the weekend.
He opined that Nigeria need to go back to the 60s and 70s when it made agriculture the mainstream of its economy, but go a step further by making use of modern equipments and inputs, improved seedlings, while adding value to its agric produce to create additional jobs and increase the income acruable from the produce.
He said, “Nigeria has one of the richest agricultural resources for food production in the world with arable land of 98 million hectares out of which 84 million hectares is cultivable. Only 34 out of the 84 million hectares (48%) is cultivated. With 230 billion cubic metres of water resources, abundant and reliable weather conditions and a population of about 170 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s largets market in terms of agricultural productivity.”
“Nigeria’s huge population, vast arable land and climate variations allows it to produce a variety of food crops and cash crops. Among these are cassava, yam, corn, cocoa-yam, cowpea, beans, variety of fruits and vegetables, cocoa, cotton, groundnut, palm oil. These formed part of Nigeria’s major exports in the 1960s until petroleum surpasses them in 1970.
“Nigeria emerged leading producer of most of these produces then but the discovery of oil ensured that the country continue to lag behind in the production of these products to the extent of becoming importer of many of these food and cash crops from leading producer and exporter, with resultant negative impact on the dependent economy that ensure dollar and foreign countries dictates the direction and status of the economy.
“Nigeria’s quest and his taste for imported food items in the midst of rising world food prices is improving inflation while unemployment among our youthsremains on the increase on daily basis, while our imports create jobs for the countries from where we import. The consequences are increase social vices and youth restiveness here and there.
“In 2010 alone, Nigeria spent N635 billion on importation of wheat, N356 billion on importation of rice, N217 billion on the importation of sugar, N90 billion on the importation of fish despite all the marine resources Nigeria is ended with. Nigeria must use what it has, the power of population and rich arable land to create market for our local foods production and employment for our large teeming population producing what we eat and eat what we produce.”