Jonathan, in Switzerland, pledges creation of 3.5m jobs by 2015
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has assured that his administration would create no fewer than 3.5 million new jobs through the ongoing transformation in the agricultural sector.
The President, at the formal opening of a meeting with members of Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) Tuesday in Geneva, Switzerland, noted that his administration has embarked on a bold policy and institutional reforms aimed at adding 20 million metric tones of food to domestic supply and creating at least 3.5 million new jobs in the agriculture and allied industries sector by 2015.
A statement Tuesday by his Media Adviser, Dr. Reuben Abati, quoted the President as saying that the present administration’s objective was to build on Nigeria’s “tremendous natural resources,” reverse the decline in the agricultural sector’s productivity, which followed the discovery of oil, establish domestic self-sufficiency in food and make the country “a major net exporter of food.”
“Such a shift will not only reduce the billions of dollars we spend importing basic food items, but will create millions of jobs, especially for our youth,” the President said. “This shift will also drive agricultural industrialisation, as more agro-allied enterprises are established to process and add value to local foods for domestic and international markets.”
Jonathan told the gathering that his administration was wholly committed to a government-enabled private sector-driven transformation of the nation’s agricultural sector. He stated: “Government will continue to support public-private sector partnerships that reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria, especially by providing critical infrastructure such as power, water and roads.
“This is why my government is developing staple crop processing zones as a new framework for attracting the private sector into areas of high food production, to process and add value to all commodities produced in Nigeria.
“We also recognise the need to accelerate investments in research and development, and take advantage of modern technologies, including bio-technology and ICT technologies that will expand possibilities for our farmers.”
The President declared that the initiative to transform Nigeria’s agricultural sector through the private sector was already paying off with new private sector investments worth about $8 billion now committed to agriculture.
Thanking members of the EPG for their support, President Jonathan said that their contributions to the positive transformation of Nigeria’s agricultural sector would not only help to achieve food security for the nation, but would help to enhance national security by helping to create new jobs to take millions of unemployed youth off the streets and into productive employment.
Those present at the meeting, according to the statement, included the former Secretary-General of the United Nations and current Chairperson of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Dr. Kofi Annan, President of the African Development Bank, Mr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, Chairman of the Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc., Mr. Mohammed Al-Ghazaleh, Mr. Pierre Vandebeeck and Mr. Ides De Willbois.
The newly formed group is expected to advise President Jonathan on actions that will achieve the transformation of Nigeria’s agricultural sector as well as provide a global platform for encouraging investments in the sector