President Muhammadu Buhari, at the presentation of 2018 budget of over N8 trillion on Tuesday to the joint National Assembly members, promised accelerated establishment of at least six Staple Crop Processing zones for the country.
This, he said, was part of support for investors and state governments who are keen on developing the agricultural sector which he said has helped in stabilising Nigeria’s economy, and contributed in Nigeria’s exit from recession.
“This initiative will develop infrastructure for the production,processing and storage of strategic commodities,” the President said.
He pointed out that the focus is for the government to encourage backward integration for grains, horticulture, livestock, fisheries and sugar, as well as ex portable commodities such as cocoa, cassava and oil palms.
On Agricultural development, the President said,”The Agricultural sector played a crucial role in Nigeria’s exit from recession. Today, it remains the largest employer of labour and holds significant potential to realise our vision of re-positioning Nigeria as a food secured nation.”
The President pointed out that,”We will consolidate on existing policies and develop new ones to ensure the numerous value chain challenges in the agricultural sector are addressed. As I mentioned earlier, several investors have deployed significant capital in the production and processing of rice,sugar,maize, soya, yams, tomato, oil pals, rubber and poultry.”
We are also seeing increased investments in the agro-inputs manufacturing sector such as fertilizers,the President said.
The President while assuring on the protection of investment in the agricultural sector said,”We are determined to protect these investments and encourage more.
Food security is an important aspect of the administration’s National Security Agenda.
“A committee chaired by the Vice-President is working on this matter. A key part of their work will be reactivation of the Badagry Agreement signed between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin in 2003. This agreement was abandoned by the previous administrations,established a mutually beneficial framework for the two neighbors and allies to partner in tackling smuggling and other cross border crimes.
“I would like to assure investors in the agricultural value chain that the menace of smuggling will be handled decisively,” he said.