Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that he is hopeful that Nigeria will be an Agric business success.
The former president stated this while briefing newsmen at the 2nd Group Meeting of the Nigeria Zero Hunger Strategic Review 2030, which held in Abuja on Tuesday.
Obasanjo while reacting to questions on the committee’s activities said “there were 9 sub committees to look at different aspects of the strategy such as research and development, processing and marketing among others where each sub committee was expected to submit a report”.
“Where we are now is we asked each sub committee to submit a report which they did,we pooled the report in a binder and each sub committee head is to report and present the report and then open the report for discussion”
“What we will do is synthesis this committee report to see where they overlap and where we need to fine tune,so that we will then have a final meeting and report,then look an the final outcome of the report.”
He enthused that “The hope is that Nigeria will be an agric business success”
Chief Obasanjo further revealed that the Ministers of agriculture and health, as well as the governors of Sokoto and Ebonyi all headed sub committees, noting that this were the people with them at the inaugural meeting.”
He recalled that the first meeting was held in IITA Ibadan where members broke into 9 sub committees to look at different aspects of what we have to do A
Also speaking Alhaji Sani Dangote said the meeting was interesting as issues and challenges on agric.and zero hunger in Nigeria was discussed and solutions were proffered.”
He noted that with the former President chairing the strategic Group,”there would definitely be a great move to self sufficiency and food security, providing all the issues discussed are implemented”
Dangote while reacting to the challenges facing the Dangote tomato plant said ” the challenges were as a result of lots of import coming in.
Even though the CBN officially says it’s not giving any importer dollars to bring, but other countries like China have dropped their prices by more than 50% to ensure that even though there is devaluation in naira,they will be able to sell or those who want to buy through the parallel market.
He noted that “as at today the government duty is so low that only 5% or so,so with that low duty plus China dropping their prices by more than 50% to less than 700 dollars,it means you can still buy dollars at 500 naira and import tomatoes paste and they sell.
“And if you check the price they are selling,they are selling about 70grammes for almost N50 so by the time you multiply this value,it means they are selling as at today over 2300 dollars equivalent per tonne when they are buying less than 700 dollars, so the margin is huge, but unless government does something, there is no way we can get local farmers who has little capacity compared to a Chinese farmer.
A farmer here gets less than 12 tonnes “per hectare while a Chinese farmer gets over 100 tonnes and is supported by his government and others.
“Nigeria government, we have been talking for the last 1 year and up till this very moment there is no clear policy to wherever they are heading.”
He noted further that “The minister of Industry has been talking about bringing the importers and processes to the table to find a common ground,”but there is no common ground when somebody’s business is about import and another’s is about local production, so the clear cut decision is what is hampering the decision and unfortunately we are right now in the month were farmers have to start planning and there is no direction or clear cut policy.”
He said that government had promised all the ministries concerned to take proper decision to ensure there is a policy in place,today there is still no policy guidelines so unfortunately this is the stage were we are and we are watching.
He affirmed that “The CBN is implementing what it has put in place, not allocating dollars but even at the current rate of not less than 450/470 it’s still viable to import from China at less than 100 dollars and sell at almost 2000 equivalent in naira,so no reason why somebody should go and do backward integration,but we believe the President will wake up to the facts.”
He added that the Dangote tomato plants is not looking for forex”We are not looking for forex,we are only saying government should give a policy were we are able to produce tomatoes for companies that have packaging plants to buy.”
The Director General of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture ( IITA) Nteraya Sagina was optimistic that Nigeria will end hunger by the year 2030 with the strategies rightly implemented.
He said, “partners in the Zero hunger project include the government who will provide the enabling environment while the private sector,will drive production, provide fertilisers, chemicals, marketing and exports, Civil Society Organisations as well as academic institution.”