The federal government has called on the faith-based organisations (FBOs) to collaborate with the government by investing in agriculture to ensure food sufficiency in the country.

Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, senior special assistant to the president on sustainable development goals (SDGs) made the call in Abuja on Tuesday at the 2018 Faith-Based Organisations Agricultural Summit. The summit has its theme: “The Sustainable Agricultural Revolution: The Role of Faith-Based Organisations.”

She noted that the summit was apt as it would focus on how to strengthen and promote self-sustenance in food production and as well provide meaningful employment to the nation’s teeming unemployed population.

She reiterated the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in its resolution to explore meaningful ways and means of improving the lives of all Nigerians. According to her, “Partnership with FBOs in agriculture will help fast-track the achievement of the SDGs 1 and 2 in Nigeria. Undoubtedly, the achievements of these two goals will produce multiplier effect on other goals.

“In view of this engagement, the FBOs are expected to play critical role in the achievement of the SDGs.

This summit will provide the platform to guide us as we fashion out strategies to strengthen our relationship and collaboration as we work together for the common goal of ensuring that Nigeria makes significant progress in achieving the SDGs by 2030.”

She, however, urged Nigerians to make use of all available funding in the aspect of loans and grants as there were lots of possibilities in making Nigeria a wealthy and healthy nation.

In his message, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, was optimistic that the new development of partnership would impact greatly on the development of the country. Abubakar, who was represented by the Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Yamusa, said the key actor in promoting sustainable agriculture for the country were the FBOs. He called on the leadership of the FBOs to manage the tithes and offerings of their members judiciously and channel it into agriculture so as to provide food for the vulnerable in their midst.

He appealed to the federal government to also adopt a proactive measure to assist farmers in developing modern farming equipment that would aid food production.

Also, president, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr Samson Ayokunle, said the initiative would minimise crisis in the country as well stop food importation.

Ayokunle, who was represented by Bishop Peter Ogunmuyiwa, coordinating chaplain, National Christian Centre, appealed for more enlightenment in the churches and mosques on how to access funds for agricultural development.

“CAN is fully in support of this because engaging the FBOs will engender a speedy result expected by the government and people of Nigeria,” he said.

Also, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, welcomed the new development, while calling on Nigerians to access agricultural loans and grants to enable everyone participate in agriculture.

Ogbeh, represented by Mr Nasir Adamu, director, Planning, Policy and Coordination, said the involvement of FBOs would drive the efforts in diversifying the nation’s economy thereby withdrawing dependence on oil.

In a similar view, the ambassador of Israel, Mr Ismail Halid, explained that though Israel as a nation do not have natural resources like Nigeria, it was able to galvanise its human resources to make available technology for food production.

Halid urged the Nigerian government to take a cue from Israel to develop the best brains to bring this technology to bear in Nigeria.