Heineken Lokpobiri, minister of state for agriculture, says with the support of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the federal government has made “many millionaires” from agriculture.
TheCable has not been able to verify the minister’s claim.
In a statement on Wednesday, George Oji, media aide of Lokpobiri, quoted the minister as making the claim when Lisandro Martin, IFAD regional director for the West and Central African region, paid him a visit on Tuesday.
The minister said whatever decision Nigeria takes on agriculture is important because the country “feeds the whole of West Africa”.
“What we are doing as a government is to encourage young men, instead of looking for government job where they will be paid peanuts, should go into agric business, not only to plant but in the entire value chain. These are the things we can achieve with the active support of IFAD,” he said.
“Federal government has not only been able to increase food sufficiency and create jobs for the teaming youths, but has as well made many millionaires from the farmers. So many millionaires have been made from this partnership and we intend to create more and more millionaires so that this issue of unemployment that is a fundamental problem to Nigeria would be tackled.
“Whatever we do here essentially feeds the whole of West Africa. The seeds that we produce here essentially services the whole of West Africa, the grains that we produce here services the whole of West Africa. Whatever happens here affects the whole of West Africa. So, whatever support that you are giving to Nigeria is essentially the support given to the whole of West Africa.”
Lokpobiri said the government would be approaching IFAD “from time to time” to seek for more financial support to enhance agricultural yield in the country.
“As a government, what we have decided to do is to say we will give priority to our partnership, whatever that is needed to be done on the part of the government, we would endeavour to do,” he said.
“The value that is being added by our partnership is so significant that from time to time, you will be getting additional demands from us for more financing.
“I want to assure you that for whatever support we get the story will be always a success story so that our people will continue to get value for what this partnership is about.”
On his part, the IFAD director said the organisation is working to provide more technical guidance to the country.
“We are working with our team to bring additional staff to Nigeria because this is clearly a country that is almost like a continent where we realise that the capacity we have at the moment is not sufficient,” Martin said.