By Tayo Joseph Lagos
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, says the Federal Government is negotiating with some foreign countries to facilitate the exportation of Nigeria’s agricultural produce.
The minister, who said this on Tuesday in Katsina when he visited Gov. Aminu Masari of Katsina State, said that “the aim of the discussion with the countries is to boost the country’s economy.’’
Ogbeh said that the agricultural policies of the Federal Government in the last two years were aimed at promoting the diversification of the economy.
He said that the ministry had identified the agricultural produce in which each state of the federation had a competitive advantage.
He said that the ministry would ensure that the commercial production of the agricultural produce so as to generate raw materials and finished goods for export.
The minister said the agricultural produce included staple foods such as rice, maize, wheat and millet and tuber crops, as well as dairy products, livestock and fisheries.
Ogbeh stressed that the enhanced production of food crops and livestock would facilitate the growth of the national economy.
He said that Katsina was one of the major states under the focus of the new initiative because of its rich soil, expansive land mass and large number of farmers.
In his remarks, Masari said that his administration had gone into several partnerships with the Federal Government, private investors and international agencies to boost agricultural production.
He said that the state government had procured 225 modern tractors from an Indian firm, as part of its efforts to fast-track agricultural production to achieve food security.
The governor said that over five dams across the state were currently undergoing rehabilitation to facilitate dry season farming.
Besides, Masari said that the administration was supporting farmers with extension services and provision of fertilisers at subsidised rates.
He said that the state planned to increase its cotton production, recalling that the state used to supply 60 per cent of the cotton requirements of the nation’s textile industries some years ago.
He also said that the state would soon start the massive production of Zobo (a vegetable-based drink) for local consumption and exports, while engaging in tomato paste production via a public- private partnership.