President Muhammadu Buhari has again called on Nigerian youth to seize opportunities in agriculture, a sector of the economy he said is already proving to be the bedrock of the nation’s new economy.
According to a statement on Tuesday by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, the president made the call on Monday at Blair House, Washington DC, at a meeting with the chief executive officers of six American agricultural companies and their Nigerian counterparts, after his White House engagements with President Donald Trump.
Mr Buhari again lamented the challenges of the country’s youth bulge, with “sixty per cent of the population below 30 years.”
He said Nigeria must help its young people plan their future and urged the youth to explore opportunities easily accessible in agriculture because, “agriculture is the future.”
Stressing that planning in Nigeria must take into consideration the factors of climate and a bulging youth population, Mr Buhari also promised to promote skill development, innovation and entrepreneurship among the young population.
“We realised, rather belatedly that we ought to have been investing in agriculture. We are now aiming at food security because of our large population. Our youths, the ones who have gone to school and even those that have not, should go to the farm, to earn respect for themselves.
“Agriculture is providing jobs for millions of our citizens and we are doing well towards the attainment of food security and jobs. The media may not appreciate the work we are doing but we will shock them by the success we are recording,” he said.
Mr Buhari welcomed the several investment proposals being put in place by the Americans and their Nigerian counterparts.
According to the statement, among proposals brought up for discussions were the three million tons fertilizer by Dangote, the largest in Africa coming on stream in July, to be followed by another one to produce 1.4 million tons of the commodity; a large-scale modern seed production company, and weed and pest management and chemicals products companies by the Americans.
Others the statement listed are the Burger King food chain’s plans to integrate local farmers in livestock production, Heinz tomatoes production with backward integration of Nigerian tomato farmers; and another company coming to set up a local branch to facilitate merchandising of commodities, which will establish a link between the Nigerian producers and the global market.
It said a tractor manufacturing company, John Deer, also unfolded plan to establish an assembly plant to produce 10,000 tractors in four years in Nigeria. It said the proposals will all come with jobs for Nigerians.
“In a second business meeting same day, President Buhari brought together Nigerian businessmen and their American counterparts from the U.S Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa, (CCA.)
“The U.S Chamber, on behalf of its three million member-companies which included General Electric, Chevron, Proctor and Gamble and Boeing aircraft manufacturers, expressed happiness with improved security in the Niger Delta, reforms in the economy leading to ease in doing business, and the war the administration is waging against corruption.
“Several of the oncoming plans were disclosed to the President who demanded concrete plans and an aggressive timetable for their actualization.
“He envisaged that the investment schemes will lead to a lot of new opportunities for the Nigerian youth.