The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, has said that with concerted efforts of Agro-preneurs, the agricultural sector would increase its contribution to the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 23 per cent to 50 per cent in the next 10 years. He said this will further help in the actualization of the Federal Government’s policy of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10years.

The Minister made this known during at a Roundtable Discussion on Agro-preneurs Success Stories and Mentorship Clinic which is part of the activities to mark this year’s World Food Day celebration, held in Sheraton Hotel Abuja on Thursday, 14th October, 2021.

Dr. Mahmood Abubakar stated that ‘’ the  Federal Government’s economic diversification policy to agriculture, as an alternative to oil and gas, and the investment of agro-preneurs projected Nigeria to become the largest producer of rice in Africa from 2019, the first in Cassava and Yam production globally’’.

He further said that  ‘’ the effort also made Nigeria to be ranked 14th in Maize production and 4th in Palm oil production. He said with these laudable achievements, notable domestic brands in rice are fast competing with foreign international brands’’.

The Minister noted that the objective of the celebration is to promote worldwide effective action to end hunger, malnutrition, and poverty and ensure that everyone at all times and places have physical and economic access to nutritious food.

He emphasized that agriculture has a long-standing role in Nigeria’s economy with 70 per cent of the population engaged in the sector.

“A recent survey by the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS) indicates that the agricultural sector contributed 23.78 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), thus topping seven other sectors with the most contribution, the Minister added.

He informed that “the agric sector has the potential to be a key driver of growth, job and wealth creation given the country’s viable agro-ecological zones, youthful population and agro-industrial linkages, and to lift a sizable number of the population out of poverty. “The 5.01 per cent of the 2nd quarter, 2021 GDP increase was possible due to the investments in food processing and manufacturing’’.

Dr Abubakar pointed out that the expectations from agriculture to drive the economy would only be achieved when entrepreneurs take deliberate actions to invest in different value chains.

According to him, “the potentials across crops, livestock, horticulture and fisheries sub-sectors are enormous. Therefore, it is the ingenuity of entrepreneurs like some of you here that would add value to our products and guarantee the revenue generation potentials of the sector,”  Abuabakar stated.

In his contribution, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, urged the three tier of Government to collaborate and synergise to revitalize agribusiness.  He  observed that most of the smallholder farmers were based in the rural areas and closer to their States and Local Governments, adding that there is need for States to come up with policies, programmes and funds to promote Agriculture in the country.

Some Selected  and accomplished agro- prenuers including : Barr. Nkiruka Stella Okonkwo of Fresh&Young Brains Development Initiative, Emmanuel’s Ibeawudu of Sub- Sahara Commodities, Akinwale Alabi of Corporate Farmers  International and  Chigozie  Ubanagu, shared their success stories in the industry to encourage Nigerian youth to embrace agriculture an a viable business opportunity.