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'Nigeria has The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina is passionately committed to the development of agriculture as a sustainable altemative to the country's dependence on petroleum. In this interview with NATIONAL MIRROR'S EDITORIAL TEAM, the minister emphasises that agric business provide unlimited opportunities lor entrepreneurship and job creation as well as a key channel lor economic diversification. Exerpts 3:50,(8) jobs.

So to bridge that demand and supply aap. while also us1ng the llw!stock tt'IllISfonnation progratTUne to ahn to achJe':e self sufficiency in meat and Uvestock production within the given time hme. the minhtry' will thn:JoJih quality Imestments In lh'eStOCk valoo c:hain programmes. such as iargHcale furntlng In the five geo.eoo&ogk:al zones, the upgradcfllocaJ breed! throughselecthl! brtedlna and artHldal insemination, and expansJon d hatchery capac. Ity to 25 million day~d chicks ror brol1en and Iaym; will meet Its target d job aeatJon. There Is aOO the 0I':II01n& oU palm transformation agenda. where teams haw already been enpgod In field visits to 5eCUJ1!, c:onunltmenl fI state ~ts to the scheme that is also meant to boost employment and revenue. 'f1lose teams wUlldenUfY nW'St'!')' operators to participate In dry season 00 palm nW'St'!')' In additJon to registerlng smallholder oll palm rarmers. with the mInIstry II!! 10 establish tOnal offices in the six geo-poUUca.I zones to c0ordinate Its operations.


Whllt ,. the update on the T,.".lormatJon Agenda! of the mlnl.try, and how 'S the move gcHng to revive the oconomy? The 'I"nlnskrmalion Agenda and lnJUatlve of the Min· istry of AgricuJ1ure and Natural Resource5Is a pan of the 0Yt'I"all D"nmformalion that the Fedenll (;oI.U1lment Is ounuInc. with the ob_~" returnIn& and PiadnB ag. ricultW"e, and it e opporttmitles It provides as the devek)p-

men' baslsd tberountry'seoonomlt It is couuoou knowled8e that more than 00 per cent of Nlpriaus depends on agriculture as a sourced lh'elihood at both naltona and grassroots le\-eb; therefcre. gQ\'ernmen! canllOt sHon:! 10 neglect. the sector. that Is why goYernrncnt's emphas15 Is ....'Ol1dng towards making bl.!! and huge business out U agric. thr'OU8h whk:h Nigerians and residents should be comfortable. More9O, dt'un:racy asa system fA BO\'t'mllletlt lay citJcallmpoc'tru1o!un the ract lhatthecountrymust ~and one of the ...."3~ that democracy can v.utt in the oountry can be tlU"fJIUgIl the ~t and Implementation of sustainable food security initiath"eS (or the coun~ and also that can guarantee exportS that can earn t"e\'eOue for the countr]< On the woolf. the TransfonnaUon Agenda Plan 0( the Mln1stryof Agrlcultureand Rural [)et.'clopment Is ruuy 00 c:ourR. and the tr.lI\Sformatlon agenda Is meant to revive the ~ a3aie jobs for millions of Nigerians and reduce NJierla's fXJd import dependence but which if I may add is exceptional.1y hIgh, with the top fOur imports con5I.lllllng over N13 trillion in foreign exchange annua.lJlt

c.n you be mote specllk: In the way annual food Import

by the country cormtmes 0'1.... Nl.3tm? Llke I saki before. the oountry's food lmportis


tainable. t-Ood impm1s ls growing at an a1arntin8 mte of U per- cent per annwn. n.u-ther" fuellina domestk InflalkJn

What Is the Iat••t on the C......... Rk., Cocoa. Sor· ghum and cotton Transform.tion Agenda of the MiniStry, partlcularty on the plans to utilise cuaava fOf developm~nt through the banning of wheat ImportaUon? Uke other specific plans d the minlstry d Agriculture. the Cassava 1"ran.sftrmaUon Plan ls meant 10 revt\'e the emnomy and a-eatejobs ror mllUons fI N~ The Cassava TransronnatJon Plan Is a part 0( the FaI-

eral Goo.'t'I"lUTIent overall effort to revamp the agrk:uItW"f: .sector; ensw-e rood securl~ dlversJfY the eoonomy and en

mals in Africa but has not been able to meet the demand because ~ 5e"o1nl reasons. lndudlng poor nutrition. poor d..Iseage rn.'lfl38'.'DItt and control and poor breed d ani mals. despite the ract that the yearly demand lOr meat and livestock products Is hlgh_ For example. Ule annual demand ror- beef" stands at ()\/('f" 6OO,OOl tonnes, that ~ goal meat about 4OO,IXK) tonnes. the demand ror poultry meat Is OYer 5OJ,IXK) tonnes and ror ea 250,IXK) tonnes, while the demand ror milk Is aboul649,OOl

hanco foreign exchange"""""" ",. . . . . . - - action plan is rOClJ.'led on key aspects d vaJue chains, includIng the proviskln and avaUabilltyo( lmprwed inptllS (seed and, increased productMty and prodldkn, as welJ as the establishment d staple crop processinB zones. while aJ.oto addressln& n!ducUon In post-harvest losses, bn proving 11nk.ages with lndUStJ1[ Put toKetI~ the U'ansronnaUon agenda sets out to aeale over 3..5 mJlllon jobs from the rice. cassava. ~wn. cocoa and ~ ton value chalns. with many more jobs to OOIlle from other valuechalns Wlder bnplernentaUon The prognurune aims to provide OYer N30IJn (US$ 2bn) 0( additional Income in the hands fI Nigerian fanners, whUeO\'er Nmbn (S3Dn) 15 to be lQjected into theecmooty from the substitution 0( 20 percent 0( bread wheat Dour with C3SS3\'8 flour: Bt that singular 88tnda when fWly Implement. the mmlstry ..wuJd have enabied Nigeria to be rood secure by In ~tng production 0( key rood staples by 3) mIlllon tons. which wben broken down will be Rice 2 m1Won metric tonS, cassava 17 mlJlloo nletrlc tons and Sorghwn. 1 mU Uon metric tons. Most lmportanUy however in all 0( these lnltlath'eS, Is that the transfonn:atlon agcnd3 will also call for targeted interventions to lncrease efficiency and profitability aJon&


the value-added dlains 0( the5e aups.

and driving PO\let"t;Y: Currentllt NIgeria is importing products that we can produce In abundance. such as the NJ56 bn worth of r1ce and N217 bn worth ~ sugar that are annually bnported.

In the same vern. about N97bn \\U1h ~ flsh; is lmported whUe N6J5 bn is beln& spent 00 lmporting wheal annuaU): Mea.nwh~ aU these roods the country Is bnporting are prodUCl8 that 'Al! can easUy find iocaI altematlYes roc What apeclflc area Is the ministry Intending to explore In Its Job cre.tlon e"Oft? Prom the ltvestock and reed sector alone. there is the potenlia1 ~ betns able to aeate 3:5O,IXK) jobs within the next rour)"!8r: As a countr)t Nigeria ha50ned the largest herdsd ani-

Mth such a huge market. rocusing on the livestock .sector; and managing It with a business sense d agrlcuJ nu-e wW in the kln& lenn. aeate more than the projected

SIIII on the c.s•• va .gend., what partlcul.r atl'1ltegy .re 'fOU using to .chleve your objecttves?

no business importing food' The Cassava Transformation Action Plan W85 forumlated to ITlOYe ca5SIMl rtom a food and subsistence aop to an indusuiaJ raw malerta1 In Nigeria.. The plan was de''eloped followtn& a series (# oonsuJtative meetings with s~hoIders.

The strategy consists ~ 1,\. '0 tlUlin pillars. One; ae3le sustainable demand in the Industria) food. beI.wage. and chemkal sectOr for- cassava-based products via policy reforms that inoentMze Import substitution as a means fA stabUWng fi1!Sheassava ("()(M prices and raisme UveUhoods


C8SSOMI fanners.

Seanlbt build an effecth1:! cassava valuedWns (or high quallty cassava Dour (HQCF), sW'Ch. sweetener; fuel ethanol, dried chips, and traditional food product through organisation d fanners into dusters around smaIl and large 5C3.le ~ Then train farmers In supplychaln ~ment; while demonstrating the advanwges d l)f~ producOon pack. ages d modern varieties. stabUIse fertilizer rates. and improve cultural prnctk:es for bx::reased productivity; whlle also providln& and impr'O'o't'd access to agro.lnputs, f\nance, and tractcrtsatkn AI the policy 1e\'eJ. some d the strategies tncIude inler ventions to support the cassava industrY through a man ciator)' 10 peraml inclusion rI HQC,P in wheat Ilour; a 12 percent rorporale tax waiwr for bakeries who bll!nd «I pen:ent fA cassava Dour In bread. and Increase In levies on imported wheal Dour and grain. Others are a 10 percem inclusion €:I t'uel ethanol In pel' 1"01 (FAO).,and the establishment d a Cassava Trade and Marketlna De\~1 Corporation (CTMDC)to be run by the pnv8Ie geCtOt thaI will represent the cassava sectOr befOre ~ and build much needed market instiru. lions around farmen. 'Ille ministry already ~ implementation Bgl"l!mleIlts with 23 cassava producing stDles across the CXJUD~ The mlnlstty recentty embarked on the audit and of SMEs Producing HOCF and gani. How far has thlt audit gon. In b ...Ignm."t? As pan d plans to boost the su~y d High Quality cassava Flour(HQCF). for bread maIdrJg and confectionery ~ it is peninentlOen5W"e thai the 105 cassava prooesstnc SMEs in the country become operatlonaJ again. In c.nIer to carry out the audit of all the cassava SMEs In the country within the short time period. It was agreed that Nlger1an Engtneers and 9Odo - econcmistS should be trained and deployed to the 6 goo - political zones rL the country to carry out the SME audit 'J'wo engineers and one aoc:Jo.economis per zone were agreed upon. So far, the engineers haYe been responsilW! for assessing the machines and equipment already installed In the 1(1) SMEs. with a view 10 ascenainln& their starus and kIent.ity\n&: how 10 revamp them. 1'he socJ.aj 9dentisls ~ 85sessed the 9IXio«:onomic variables that affected the perfurmances rL the SIllIEs in the past and I'1!ICOIJ\J1'Im what can be done to revamp them. On that rL the audit and upgrade d SMEs producing prrt, we are aware that more than 90 per oem rL enrrV Fufuproduanare women. A meeting was held December 81asl year between the leader of the gam wot1ting group and officials d the Ministry d 'Mlmen Affairs.. 1'he goal of this collaboration Is to upgrade all garrVlafllnIabacha processing centreS 10 produoequality and well packaged products In a hypenk: envtronment that be Intemalionally acceptable an OYer the wodd. In other to achieve theaboYe goeJ the oommlnceagreed to take the filI-



Iowtnc tentative actions:. How .. the sensltlsaUon of bIIktn and ~eries on 40 percent HOCF Bread going? FoUowlng the adoptkln cL 40 percent cassava bread, the ministry called a press conference to seek the I\JlI support and """"""'" d the three _ ...,... In the N .... rlan bakery 1nd~ namely: Food ConceptS, Butterf'\eJd _ t1TC and Loom'" - Value 8noad. All three bakeries pubUc:Iy supported the.., peroent cassava bread. and mnsidered it an achievable p l 1'bey also

Pied&ed 10 work towards achkMn,g the .., percent tarBet within the 18 months period ol gr.oe In eu:hange for the 12 percent rebate 00 corporate cas:es. 1'he ministry Is also ....' individually with each bakery and HQCP producers In NI&erla to ensWl!: reliable supplyol HQCP at B re&!lOMble price. TIle plan will ensure quaUty and fair prices for bakeries. and sustainable c;u. sava prices forfarmers.. Some atakehokMrs have questkMted the J8ti0na1e behind your ministry's engagement 0' Advanced R....rch Insthutions (ARls) to driv. tta ¥talon for the counUy. whitis your lake on thet? Fbr the Suca!SS t:I the cassava tranSformation. or other agendas of the rninistrX It is important that vaJuable lessons gained on vaJue chain develollment d cassava in Asia and Latin America Is brought 10 bear on efforts In Nigerta Members ol the Cassava Transformation 'Team who were In China for the 9th Asian Regional Cassava MeetIng met with Dim.-un and cass3\°a program leaders ft'OIn the Internatlona1 Centre for Tropk::al Agriculture (CIAT. lIS Spanish acronym); Intemadonallnstitute for TropK:al Agrlcuhure (UTA). and Central Tuber Q-ops Resean:h Institute (CT'CRI). Tm,andrum. India

What Is the goal 0' the Rice l'rans'onnatlon ActIon Pian snd hOW w-'I Is the plan going. eapeclally .. tt also concerns the upgrading 0' Integrated mills? The goal d Rice Transformation agenda is to achieve

self sutnclency in rice production and oomplete substirudon ol tmponed rice by year 2015. ProollClS In fbcus are parboiled milled rice and unparboUed milled white rice. The targelis ao million metric tonnes per annum of k). cally produced and Intemadonally oompetitlve milled rice by 2015. The R10e Transformation Action Plan h1gh.lights com· plementary lnter'Ventions needed to devclop the Nigerian rice sector. which includes the modalities for Increasing effidency along the oonunodJty chain to make It prjoe c0mpetitive. This is been addressed through reductlon t:I COSt d production .\\'hidl include mechanisation, lntensiflcation ol paddy producdon in rainfed lowland and irrigated rice ecokJeies and used im(Jl"O'Yed rioe varieties; and the 0rganisation d farmers lnto clUSter groups to aggregate them for access to Improved tedtnoIogie5. rnaJ1tet and mIlls.


Target: Slates like NIger, Nasarawa, KadW\a, Kebbl • )ro(o, Kana, Plateau, Adamawa. Taraba, Benue, Barno, Ebonyi, Anambra, 8ayelsa,, ()gun and Ekitl Stale are all already axnmltted to the project. On the upgr-ading of tile Integrated mllls, the ntln~ In ooIlaborntJon with the Agro-processlng department d the ministry team met with the beneHclaries d the 17 Integrated Rice Mill5 to assess their preparedness for the transformation.. Ttu-ee t:I the mills - Ebony mills in Ebonyt State. Labana Mills In 8imi ){ebbl (2 mllls) will IiJ) IntO operation In February 2012. We are working with NIger State Government to upgrade the BadeggI MIll, an old mlll concenssioned 10 De:an.schanger Ud We are c:ol1D.borating with Federal Ministries 01 Water- Resouroes. Poy.-er,


and works to resolve all issues around the 01'010 Mills In Ebonyl State. What advtce would you have tor the country's farmers and oth.... stahhold.,. In ~rk:u"ur.? FIrst, Nl&erta has no business lmportlng food... Wl:th almost 84 mllllon hectares ol arable 1and, the '"prodigal mentality'" that drives food Imponatim must stop. ~ this mInJsuy is worktna: for Nigeria farmers.

One ~ OUT cardinal aoals is to take !he oounuy's farmers out ~ pove:t1J and PUl the nadoa 00 a sustainatMe path t:I development through the development ol the qric sector:


'Nigeria has no business importing food'