Chief Audu Ogbeh, the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says foreign exchange from agriculture and solid minerals could service the country’s debt and loan profile.
Ogbeh made the assertion on the sideline of the National Agribusiness Youth Training Programme funded by the Federal Government and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abuja on Tuesday.
The minister said that most funds for the training of youths in agriculture were borrowed from the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB)
He said the Federal Government was designing a strategy through agriculture to enable the country earn enough foreign exchange to service its debt in due course.
According to him, after satisfying our needs in local staples for the grains mainly, we have to design a scheme from which we shall earn enough foreign exchange to settle debts.
He said the Federal Government would soon launch a National Plantation Programme to encourage individuals to farm the smallest part of their unused land to invent their future.
“All these monies for trainings on youth agriculture are borrowed.
“We borrowed from the AfDB and World Bank and if you take a loan, you must think of when and how to pay.
“Some of these loans will be due in 35 to 40 years. Time flies and the question is, how do we pay.
“We are not likely to sell oil for 100 dollars a barrel ever again and even if we do, we are not usually careful,’’ he said.
“We waste the money when it comes, so, agriculture and solid minerals will have to pay the loans and we will pay through exports.
“The average age of a farmer now is between 60 to 65 years and that is why we want the youths to be involved in agriculture.
“There is a programme which we will launch very soon. It is called the National Plantation Programme.
“Everyone with a land somewhere should do a plantation like cocoa, cashew, shea butter, coconut and pigeon pea to make money to recover the image and honour of this country.’’
The minister noted that the Federal Government would re-launch cocoa before the end of the second quarter of the year to also boost the production for exports.
He said the plan was to take the country back to its place of pride as the highest producers of cocoa.
“The only way of controlling tomorrow is by planning for it but we Africans are not very good at that.
“We get caught by the future, we do not remember much of the past,’’ he said.
Ogbeh commended the President of the AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, for his support to the country.