Abuja — President Goodluck Jonathan has said the reforms embarked upon by his administration in the agricultural sector would add 20 million metric tonnes of food to domestic supplies and create at least 3.5 million new jobs in agriculture and allied industries by 2015.
The President, who made this disclosure at a meeting with members of Eminent Persons Group on the transformation of Nigeria's agricultural sector, said the objective of the structural and policy reforms was to build on Nigeria's tremendous natural resources.
He also said it was founded on the need to reverse the decline in the agricultural sector's productivity which followed the discovery of oil; establish domestic self-sufficiency in food and make the country a major net exporter of food.
He said: "Such a shift will not only reduce billions of dollars we spend importing basic food items, but will also create millions of jobs, especially for our youths.
"This shift will also drive agricultural industrialization as more agro-allied enterprises will be established to process and add value to local foods for domestic and international markets."
He emphasised that his administration was committed to a government-enabled, private sector driven transformation of the nation's agricultural sector to change the perception in the country that agriculture was for the never do well.
"Government will continue to support public-private sector partnerships that reduce the costs of doing business in Nigeria, especially by providing critical infrastructure such as power, water and roads. This is why my Government is developing staple crop processing zones as a new framework for attracting the private sector into areas of high food production, to process, and add value to all commodities produced in Nigeria.
"We also recognise the need to accelerate investments in research and development and take advantage of modern technologies, including bio-technology and ICT that will expand possibilities for our farmers."
The President disclosed that the initiative to transform Nigeria's agricultural sector through the private sector was already paying off with new private sector investments worth about $8 billion now committed to agriculture.