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2016 Agric Budget: Nigerians Will Starve to Death by 2050 Says Agric Minister

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The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Thursday identified Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector as Nigeria’s first point of call in the President agricMuhammadu Buhari led administration’s urgent quest for a diversified economy.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu made this known while receiving a delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development led by the Honorable Minister, Chief Audu Innocent Ogbeh and its Minister of State, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, Permanent Secretary, Dr Shehu Usman Ahmed and other Senior Ministry officials in a joint legislative budget defence that had the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture in attendance.

Responding to the opening remarks of the joint exercise, Dr Ogbeh noted in defence of his Ministry’s 2016 budget that the key initiatives for the 2016 fiscal year for the Ministry of Agriculture was to increase the national food supply to 20 million tonnes and begin to employ 3 million Nigerians annually.

Outlining import and export substitution commodity value chains, a Labour Intensive Family Enterprise (LIFE) program, agricultural mechanisation and grazing reserves/stock routes development are the critical projects to be carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2016. Dr Ogbeh also stated that the major challenges facing the Ministry included inadequate funding, non-sychronization of budgetary releases, insecurity and negative natural factors such as climate change, desertification and flooding while also calling on the Senate to urge Nigeria’s Universities of Agriculture to ‘come back happily home’ to the Ministry of Agriculture from the Ministry of Education so as to fulfil their constitutional mandate of providing human and technical support for the nation’s agricultural sector.

However, Ogbeh in doomsday prophecy style, alarmed that Nigerians will starve to death by 2050. According to him, “four or five months of agricultural activity would not sustain the increasing population of the country for 12 months. Besides, by 2050, Nigeria’s population will be very close to 500 million going by the current growth. This is just 34 years from now. If we carry on at the current rate of one crop per year with very low mechanisation, Nigerians run the risk of starving to death”.

The Honourable Minister proferred mechanised farming with irrigation to improve farm yields, stressing that he had informed state governments to engage in dam and canal construction to enhance all-year food production and security.

An overview of the budget proposal of the Ministry of Agriculture reveals a sum of N40,918,856,927 (40.92 billion naira) of which 84% (34.50 billion) was for capital projects, 15% (6.18 billion) was for personnel costs and 0.6% was for overhead cost.

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The Senate | Federal Republic of Nigeria | National Assembly Complex | Three Arms Zone, PMB 141, Abuja | Nigeria