XRAYING THE IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ECONOMY IKPEAZU EXAMPLE
By Kingsley Maduforo
Agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy before the discovery of crude oil from 1960 to 1969. The sector accounted for an average of 57 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generated 64.5 percent of export earnings. From 1970 to late 2000,the sector’s contribution to the GDP and export earnings steadily reduce because Nigeria’s focus shifted to petroleum exploration. Over the past five years, the sector has contributed an average of 23.5 percent to GDP and generated 5.1 percent of export earnings.
While the recent fall in crude oil prices has triggered conversation around the role of agriculture in economic diversification,the agricultural sector requires massive investments to increase production and to create value addition across the most profitable segments of the value chain.
The socio-economic development and its subsequent economic growth of the state is strongly linked to the level of growth in agricultural sector. Lack of adequate improvement in agricultural sector of the economy is one of the magin factors hampering development. The level and quality policies influencing agricultural growth are of crucial significance on economic and social progress, and it must be considered at every stage of local and national development. The agro-business can effectively drive the secio-economic development of the state without an eye to crude oil.
The governor of Abia State, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, has showed that great opportunities embede in agriculture. The rapid growth in agro-business in the state, has increase the demand for agric products by domestic consumers and also offer market opportunities for developing various high value crops that will support diversification in agriculture and more income to farmers in the state.
Is on record that Abia is richly bless and has a land size of 5.835sqkm,with a population of 2.8 million is bless with natural resources, a fertile land and can produce what can sustain the state without looking an eye to oil or the Federal monthly allocation. That’s what prompted Gov. Ikpeazu to actively engage and support the drive for agriculture more especially in mechanised farming of cassava, rice,palm oil in line with the Federal Government Programmes and our state’s area of natural advantage.
Recently, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, flags-off the 2019 farming season with the theme ” Agricultural Financing: “A Panacea For Sustainable National Development. The flag-off was a clarion call intended to further step up support to farmers and agro-preneurs, as well as to create millions of jobs along the agricultural value chain with cash,exports and the tree crops, livestock production, agricultural mechanization and processing activities topping the list to improve agro-business.
Furthermore, since the commencement of Nigeria’s Transformation Programme and the launching of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP)in November 2015,the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in partnership with the private sector, have been steering the economy in the path of diversification. Bank of Agriculture (BOA) has since been leading the pack as special purpose vehicles, helping to streamline agriculture Finance Access to ” stimulate agriculture, improve lives and grow communities “.
Finally, agriculture remain a critical key to the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) and the wider economic growth and development of the state. In Abia today,Agro-business is experiencing a boost of entrepreneurial success. The support provided by Gov. Ikpeazu to develop agro-business in the state, by involving both young and old is a great success. This has played key role in poverty reduction, create employment for the youths and influenced Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state.
Kingsley Maduforo, is a Media/Political Analyst, writes from Aba.