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Olusegun Obasanjo Ex President urges FG, states to give priority to agri-business

Obasanjo said the government should provide conditions conducive and incentives for the private sector to engage profitably in agriculture.

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Olusegun Obasanjo play Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, an envoy of the African Union and West Africa's ECOWAS bloc. (REUTERS/Joe Penny)

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday urged the Federal and State Governments to give priority to agri-business and treat farming a business for the nation to make progress.

Obasanjo made the call at the First Eminent Persons Business Lecture entitled: ‘Agribusiness: Time to Act is now'.

The lecture was organised by the University of Ibadan, School of Business (UISB), in collaboration with International Institute of tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

"It is now time for the country to move into agriculture as there is decline in oil prices, inadequate food supply, need to create employment, raw material for industrialisation, among others.''

The former president said agribusiness was a good strategy for economic development, wealth creation, job creation and huge source of foreign exchange.

He also said that attention should be given to agriculture at the highest political level.

Obasanjo said the government should provide conditions conducive and incentives for the private sector to engage profitably in agriculture.

"Adequate infrastructure for transportation and storage must be provided; there should be stability in the price of agriculture commodities.

"Agriculture financing should be kept at single digit rate of interest, agri-business must be glamourised to make it attractive to youths.

"Attention should not be given to professional courses alone in universities, adequate support must be given to agricultural research; we should adopt best practices from within and outside Nigeria.

"There should be creation of agro-service centres within reasonable distance for the farmers, we should add value to our foods to maximize returns from our investment,'' he said.

Obasanjo, a farmer, said that the decline in oil might be a blessing in disguise to wake up Nigerians to the importance of agriculture,'' he said.

Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state represented by the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Mr Oyewole Oyewumi, said that the government was focused on the transformation of the agriculture sector.

Ajimobi said the state had developed an agriculture initiative programme as agriculture was an important factor in the development of the state.

"The programme is to tackle unemployment, provide adequate food and encourage youths to embrace agriculture,'' he said.

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