The National Economic Council (NEC) held a two-day retreat earlier this week in Abuja with Federal Authorities and the 36 states to chart a new economic direction in order to salvage the struggling Nigerian economy. Global drop in oil prices have made it imperative for the government of the day to look into other ways of generating revenue to drive economic activities. Expanding revenue sources and diversifying the economy made up the talking point of the retreat.
Agriculture is a key sector of the economy which when explored, can increase revenue generation, provide jobs and help improve the living standard of the populace. At the end of the meeting, decisions were taken in several areas such as agriculture, solid minerals, infrastructure and services among others to save the economy from impending collapse. A steering committee to implement the proposals was also formed and will be headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The president said four key areas, namely agriculture, power, manufacturing and housing, require urgent attention to revive the economy. Below are the key decisions made to revamp the agricultural sector:
- The Federal Government to re-position Bank of Agriculture to enhance its capacity to finance agriculture.
- Funding for Agricultural sector is considered critical and sources of intervention funding from the Central Bank of Nigeria should be considered
- A single digit interest rate for agricultural loans should be considered while duties and taxes for Agricultural products and equipment should be waived
- Develop strategic partnerships between Federal and State government. Each State should make specific commitments to crops in which it has comparative advantage and request Federal Government intervention
- National targets for self-sufficiency should be set for identified crops, which should be monitored.Tomato paste – 2016, Rice – 2018, Wheat – 2019
- The Federal and State Governments should roll out agricultural extension services nationwide
- The Commodity Exchanges should be established for price regulation and avoidance of losses due to lack of markets. The Abuja Commodity Exchange should be revitalised
- The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) should be re-established
- Federal Government should develop an Agriculture Implementation plan whereby State Governments are encouraged to identify at least two crops in which they have comparative advantage
- States should open up of rural/feeder roads to facilitate transportation of agricultural produce to be supported by the Federal Government
11.The Federal and State Governments should establish minimum price guarantee for farm produce
12.The Federal Government should provide immediate funding to upscale efforts of Agricultural Institutes of Research and Development across Nigeria
- State Governments should also be encouraged to fund research and development in agriculture through technical colleges, universities and research institutions
An implementation monitoring committee was also constituted and will be headed by the Minister of Budget and national Planning.