The Federal Government is to create 3.5 million jobs in the agricultural sector by 2015.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, made this known on Tuesday at Owode-Ede in Osun during the launch of the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme on Fertiliser and Seeds.
Adesina also said government had set a production target of 20 million metric tonnes of food by 2015 from local production.
``This will create 3.5 million jobs in the agricultural sector.
``Our economy in Nigeria is actually growing very well; we are growing at seven per cent every year but not able to create jobs enough for our youths that are entering the labour market,’’ he said.
He said the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan was committed to ensuring that the country `` produces what we eat and processes what we eat.’’
``Our population is 167 million, but we are using that population to create market for people in other countries, this has to be discontinued,’’ he said.
The minister said that government was also committed to improving the lots of farmers across the country so that its agricultural programme could boost food production.
``We have completed an agro input centre in Adanna and Idi iroko, an agro industrial centre at Ilesa and new silos that will take 25,000 metric tonnes of grains in Ilesa, all in Osun,’’ he said.
The minister said the Federal Government would provide two large scale rice mills that could process 30,000 metric tonnes of rice each annually in the state as part of measures to be self sufficient in rice production.
`` Government will provide one large scale cassava plant that can process 72,000 metric tonnes of high quality cassava flour and 192,000 new varieties of cocoa will soon be distributed to farmers, the new varieties can give 2.5 tones per hectare,’’ he said.
On availability of fertiliser to farmers, the minister said that it would no more be business as usual in the distribution of the commodity.
He said that only 11 per cent of farmers got fertiliser that government buys and distributes, adding that fertiliser companies would now sell directly to farmers.
Earlier, Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun had lauded the efforts of the minister at ensuring that agriculture took its leading position in the economy.
Aregbesola also reiterated the commitment of his administration to ensuring that the state became the food basket of the country.