The National Council of State ( NCS)on Thursday pushed the Federal Government agriculture intervention fund from $200m to $1 billion as part of efforts to diversify Nigeria’s economy through improved agric funding.
The National Council of State meeting is a body made up of former Nigeria leaders, governors of the 36 states of the Federation, ministers and top government appointees and is presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The fund, according to Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state, will be disbursed through already existing Federal Government institutions and programs, including the Anchor Borrowers and Cart Programmes, in order to encourage diversification of the economy and promote food security.
The decision was arrived at after extensive deliberations on how to diversify the economy, efforts being made to pull Nigeria out of doldrums, efforts that have been made to move Nigeria out of recession and the progress made so far.
The increase is coming against the backdrop of fears that Nigeria may not come out of its economic challenges without strong agric funding.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Audu Ogbe, briefed on efforts that were being made to revive the economy, especially how Nigeria moved from being a monolithic economy to a diversified one, it advised that agriculture funding should be improved from $200 million to $1 billion.
The fund is expected to support current Federal Government programs to establish grazing reserves as part of plans to halt clashes between farmers and herdsmen across the country.
Government revealed that 37 percent of Nigerian children are currently underweight as a result of malnutrition, even as Nigerians spend over $1 billion on importation of milk and dairy products.
According to Ogbe, Nigeria is also expected to subsidise grazing activities, in line with global best practices to improve milk and bear production
“Council advised that we improve on the funding on agriculture. That the paltry sum of $200 million when compared to what is being pumped into the oil sector is insignificant.
“Council recommended that at least about $1 billion be pumped into agriculture.
Council advised that planting should be done all year round and not only during planting seasons and that we should grow what we will need, what we will eat and eat what we grow, the era of wasting our very scare foreign exchange on everything that we will need is over.”
Jigawa Governor, Abubakar Badaru, briefed State House Correspondents on the security issues Council was briefed on by the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Mungonu.
“On the security situation in the country, we received a very long brief the national security adviser, ranging from farmers/herdsmen clashes, Boko Haram, militancy in the Niger Delta, kidnapping and cattle rustling”.