How To Diversify The Economy – Aregbesola
The Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, has called for a ban on export of primary farm produce, as part of strategies to grow local production and enhance the value chains of the country’s agricultural investments.
He said only innovative ventures in agriculture could make farm produce to be converted into secondary products, adding that Nigeria must create strategies that would make agriculture to be attractive to a new generation of young Nigerians before farming could be viable option towards economic diversification.
He noted that the country has not shown serious efforts towards making farming a viable venture. “We should stop exporting primary products and start adding value. The value of a kilogramme of exported cocoa beans increases 5,000 per cent by the time it comes back as chocolate.”
While challenging Nigerian agricultural scientists, technologists, nutritionists and other allied experts to be innovative, Aregbesola lamented that for ages, Nigerians have failed to improve the varieties of foods that are obtainable for their various farm produce.
“Our foods have remained the same from time immemorial. It is the same type of foods we derive from our crops in the past that we still do now. Nutritionists, food scientists and food technologists should find better uses for our crops.”
“The orientation of our agriculture towards producing raw materials, especially cash crops, for the industries in Europe and the America must be reversed from producing what we don’t use to producing what we use.
“Agriculture is needed primarily for food production. Only well fed people can drive economic development. Good nutrition is the primary basis of good health. Good nutrition therefore drives productivity in two ways; first through good health and secondly the unbounded energy and confidence that come from it,” he added.
He pointed out that Nigeria’s agriculture products are non-competitive, due to low productivity, adding, “While Nigeria and much of Africa are leading producers of cassava for instance, the traditional yield per hectare has been around 15 tonnes (Nigeria) and 10 tonnes (Africa), while global average in 2010 was put at 12.5 tonnes.
“However, India’s average yield in 2010 was 34.8 tonnes per hectare and Thailand’s yield is reported to be a whopping 120 tonnes per hectare.”