THE Nigerian government is continuing with its stated goal to make agriculture a driving force in the transformation of the economic fortunes of the country.
This is according to Vice President Namadi Sambo, at a Agriculture Investment Forum organized by the Nigerian Embassy, in Washington D.C, United States.
According to the Vice President, much effort would be concentrated towards large scale production of such staples as rice, cassava, sorghum, including opportunities in livestock, fisheries, maize, soya beans, palm oil, cocoa and cotton.
“The current focus on agriculture is to improve the value chain, moving away from production of raw materials for export, to agro-processing into semi-finished product, especially in food production," he said.
He therefore urged American investors as well as Nigerians in the Diaspora "to take advantage of the abundant opportunities for investment in the above areas of the country’s agribusiness, adding that government has undertaken a number of reforms to make Nigeria investor friendly.
“Both Federal and state governments have further steps to entrench the enabling environment for foreign direct investment as the Federal government has committed a lot of resources towards the provision of infrastructural facilities that will address the main factors militating against investment generation."
Sambo who also appreciated the exploratory visit of a group of American investors in the power sector which included major stakeholders in the industry, particularly General Electric, said much attention was being committed to addressing the transport sector by constructing roads and rehabilitating the abandoned 4,000Km railway and constructing new lines.
He added that the administration was building new thermal plants for the power sector and had created new inland water ways by the dredging of River Niger and the consultancy service for River Benue had been awarded.
On the security situation in the country, Sambo assured the investors that government was addressing the challenges through various efforts, including strengthening the capacity of the security agencies as well as collaboration with regional and international community.
Earlier, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Adewumi Adesina, who coordinated the activities at the event, said the country was focusing on agriculture not just as a development agent but as business, noting that government had committed N2.7 billion for the sector and international organisations were in full support of agric programme in Nigeria.
Adesina said Nigeria wanted strong partnership with the US in agric sector as agriculture is the life of the country, adding that women and youth were being targeted for the revolution.
Some of those who attended the forum include the Governors of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa; Rotimi Ameachi of Rivers State ; Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Ambassador of Nigeria to the US , Prof Ade Adefuye; Minister of Foreign Affairs and representative of the governor of Kwara State.