The ambassador of Brazil to Nigeria, His Excellency, Ricardo Guerra de Araujo, said an agricultural bilateral project between Nigeria and Brazil will help achieve food security, and address unemployment among Nigerian youths.
Ambassador Araujo spoke at the fourth edition of the Brazil- Nigeria Trade Forum, which took place September 6, 2023 in Abuja, and focused for the first time on Agriculture, Banking and the Creative Industry in Nigeria.
Describing Nigeria’s mono economy, heavily reliant on crude oil, as a blessing and a curse, Araujo said it is time Nigeria diversified her economy through investment in the development of the agriculture, banking sectors and creative industry.
Initiated during President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the billion dollar worth bilateral project is aimed at modernising and mechanising Nigeria’s agriculture sector, through technology transfer, job creation, capacity building and training of Nigeria’s unemployed population.
In a presentation at the forum, Silvana Saraiva, a representative of Fecula Na Industria, a cassava byproduct producing company, currently working with ECOWAS, demonstrated how to harness cassava starch, a by-product of cassava crop, in the production of food – flour and food starches, chemicals – fabric gum, paper, yeast, ethanol and, modified products like glucose.
Silvania noted that Nigeria wastes about 51 per cent of its cassava byproducts. Nigeria, she said can maximise her cassava byproducts through the production and processing of a cassava specie developed by Fecula, in large quantities to ensure food security and reduce poverty in the country.
She said Nigeria can produce 50 tonnes of said crop, with 20kg on a minimal of 3000 square meter land. To achieve this, she said emphasis must be placed on restructuring Nigeria’s agriculture system and policies, and creation of agricultural unions and cooperatives which support families and smallholder farmers; as well as the transfer of technology.
These, the ambassador said, Brazil can help Nigeria achieve via the Agricultural Bilateral Project. Brazil is ready to provide some funding from Brazilian private banks, state and federal owned banks to help Nigerians purchase the equipment needed to modernise and mechanise the country’s agriculture sector.
“Nigeria and Brazil have much in common by way of agriculture and climate. We have similar savannah land.”
Technical Adviser in the office of the Vice President, Marion Moon commended the initiative of the creative industry in incorporating agriculture issues in Take 7 Media Production company’s sci-fi and political film A Land Apart, screened at the forum, she urged young Nigerians to start wherever they are, rather than wait on government or to start big.
“Agriculture is not just planting, it is an entire value chain, from seed and inputs to machinery and finance, to post harvest storage, logistics, value addition, to retailing to packaging, to food safety. Look at the entire value chain to see where you can fit in, play a role or add value. Finally, you are dealing with nature, don’t fight it. Nurture nature as created by God, and maximise it.”