The Senate on Monday urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to channel its 2021 budget towards the creation of jobs for the Nigerian youth.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan made the call in Abuja when he declared open the “2020 budget performance and 2021 budget defence session“ of the ministry.
He said the agricultural sector was capable of turning around the fortune of the nation given its huge potential for wealth creation.
Lawan said that there was a need for the sector to be given adequate support so it could ensure the creation of jobs opportunities for Nigerians.
“Approach the 2021 budget in a very practical manner and let’s be mindful of what we do to provide employment opportunities for the youth.
“We don’t have to wait until they (youth) protest, we should reach out to them as most of them are in the rural end,’’ he said.
The Senate President urged that the agricultural sector be supported to create jobs for Nigerians, pointing out that the oil sector could give jobs to only a few.
“We need to apply ourselves fully to operating this sector, government can come up with the necessary and desired policies but those that can make it happen are in the private sector.
“I still believe we need to do better for the sector, for the good of Nigerians,” he said.
He urged the ministry to ensure specific allocations of fund to ensure greater productivity.
Lawan observed that though the importation of rice has been stopped Nigeria has the potential to grow other crops in commercial quantity.
“It is high time we began to think of one local government to grow one crop because we have the land and the people,’’ the Senate President said.
In his remark, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Abdullahi Adamu (APC Nasarawa) disclosed that the agricultural sector was allocated N179 billion in the 2021 national budget.
According to him, the sectoral allocations over the years have been very poor , noting that it had been a far cry from the 10 per cent some other countries allocate to the sector.
He said the committee would scrutinise the budget and urged the ministry and its agencies to deliver on the mandate of growing the sector further.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, said that in spite of the challenges that faced the sector in the last one year it had done fairly well.
He said the challenges were occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, drought and flood in some parts of the country.
“Recent reports by the Food and Agricultural Organisation show that Nigeria’s agriculture was not in a vulnerable situation.
“The medium term review of all the sectors showed a decline in growth except agriculture which shows growth,“ he noted.
According to the minister, the policy direction of the ministry towards economic diversification is to reopen agriculture sub-system, ensure private sector-driven organisations and the creation of commodity value chain clusters, among other initiatives, to develop the sector for the good of the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that agencies under the agriculture ministry that appeared for the budget defence included the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), the federal universities of agriculture in Makurdi, Umudike and Zuru, as well as the agricultural research institutes.