Vice President Kashim Shettima, says President Bola Tinubu’s administration is exploring innovative strategies to achieve food and nutrition security in the country.
The Norman Borlaug International Dialogue, also referred to as the Borlaug Dialogue, is a gathering of individuals from more than 65 countries fully prepared to address cutting-edge issues related to global food security and nutrition.
The theme of this year’s edition of the dialogue is “Harnessing Change.”
Mr. Shettima, who wooed foreign investors to invest in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, assured that the country was ready for agribusiness.
He said Nigeria remained the best place to invest, given its 70 million hectares of underutilized arable land, which is 75 per cent of the country’s total land mass.
The vice president said that there were substantial opportunities in Nigeria for local and foreign investors to boost agricultural productivity.
He also told the gathering that under President Bola Tinubu’s watch, Nigeria had since demonstrated that the Agrifood sector was a top priority.
In his address, titled, “Nigeria’s Agribusiness Roadmap for a Prosperous Future,” Shettima said the primary objective of the Federal Government was to empower farmers and attract investors.
“We are increasing primary production to harness the economic potential of agro-processing and industrialization.
“This is why, upon assuming office, the President declared a state of emergency on agriculture.
“The connection between food and national security is too significant for us not to be alarmed by happenings around the world, whether in response to unforeseen disasters, like the COVID-19 pandemic or the geopolitical frictions around us.”
Mr Shettima, therefore, restated Nigeria’s firm belief in the power of partnership.
“It was for this reason that the country prioritized interventions, which present profound economic opportunities for investors.”
He listed the interventions to include the National Agriculture Growth Scheme (NAGS), the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) and the Livestock Productivity
Others are the Resilience Support Project (L-PRES), the Green Imperative Project (GIP) and the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) programmes.
“Allow me to share that Nigeria understands the essence of partnerships in sustaining the dreams and promises that have brought us together today.
“This is why we are already collaborating with institutions such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Islamic Development Bank.
“Others are the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to achieve food and nutrition security in Nigeria and beyond.
“With the invaluable support of our partners, we are exploring innovative strategies to transform this quest for food security into a thriving enterprise.”
Mr Shettima highlighted critical areas in which Nigeria was assisting its farmers to increase productivity, including essential infrastructure for industries to increase their capacity.
“With about 70 million hectares of underutilized arable land, Nigeria offers a substantial opportunity to both local and foreign investors to boost agricultural productivity.
“This is why we’ve embraced the TAAT, GIP, and SAPZ programmes and are investing in agricultural research through the National Agricultural Development Fund (NADF).
“We are helping our farmers increase production and providing essential infrastructure for industries in peri-urban areas to expand their capacity.
“This, yes this, is the wisdom for our resolve to establish Mechanisation Service Centres in all our 774 Local Government Areas to facilitate essential primary production services.”
He said while much of the demand for agribusiness products was satisfied through imports, Tinubu’s administration was dedicated to reversing Nigeria’s over-reliance on importation.
Mr Shettima noted that apart from the fact that its strategic location in West Africa provides easy access to regional and international markets, Nigeria was also poised to dismantle investment barriers.
This, he said, is being achieved through a supportive policy framework such as the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP).
“Because we believe that import rules are a significant factor, we’ve established a policy of zero duties on agricultural machinery and imposed restrictions on certain agricultural commodities to stimulate local production.
“We are also offering preferential financing and subsidies, exemplified by an agricultural credit guarantee scheme that guarantees up to 75 per cent of loans for agricultural ventures.
“We’ve also introduced a range of tax incentives, including tax holidays, deductions for locally sourced materials, labor incentives, and pioneer status incentives, making it easier to conduct business.
“Notably, we’ve opened the doors to foreign investors, allowing them to have 100 per cent ownership in companies and repatriate their profits and dividends without hindrance.”
While declaring that Nigeria was ready for agribusiness, the vice president pointed out that the country was committed to the journey towards a world where food security and nutrition are not luxuries but fundamental rights for all.
Earlier, Amb. Terry Branstad, President of the World Food Prize Foundation and former U.S. Ambassador to China, described Shettima as a rare African statesman.
According to him, Shettima’s leadership qualities, loyalty, and sense of commitment to nationhood and development can best be described as legendary.
He expressed optimism that the Tinubu Presidency would be successful, given its devotion to results-oriented diplomacy.
In attendance from Nigeria were Gov. Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State, Minister of Agriculture, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, and Consul General (New York), Amb. Lot Egopija.
Also present are the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agribusiness and Productivity Enhancement (Office of the Vice President), Dr. Kingsley Uzoma, among others.