Food Security: FG Targets Saudi’s  Petro-Dollars to Power Agric Sector 

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The federal government has appealed to the government of Saudi Arabia and Saudi private investors to invest in the Nigerian agricultural sector.

Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, made the call on Thursday at a business roundtable organised by the Saudi-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce in Abuja.

The meeting was attended by the Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Engr. Abdulrahman Alfaddly who led a delegation of top Saudi government officials to Nigeria, as well as Nigerian private sector players, particularly those in the agricultural sector.

Sen. Bagudu said before now, the main point of relationship between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia was oil, but that it has been discovered that agriculture provides more opportunities and has more absorptive capacity.

According to him, “I recall that when we visited your office in Saudi,  you told us what we need to do to create an enabling environment so as to attract private sector investment. We appreciate that because we want to get it right, we want partnership, we want hundreds of trillions  of dollars that can be absorbed in agriculture and we want partnership so that both Saudi Arabia and our private sector can be richly rewarded.”

He said that the government of Nigeria is ready to partner with genuine investors to improve the nation’s agricultural system and ensure food security for Nigerians.

In his response, the Saudi Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources,  Engr  Alfaddly, said food production, food availability and accessibility is becoming on the top priority for all countries. He said that Nigeria has a comparative advantage in agriculture and that is why his country is looking for an opportunity to invest in the country.

He said that the solution  to the challenges facing self-sufficiency is the ability to produce at a lower cost compared to what is coming from outside “otherwise you will continue to import and at a certain point in time you may not be able to import and the local production is not available, you run into problems,” he said.

“So we will examine all the opportunities and note the services we need to provide to the Nigerian farmers.”

In a related development, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, has charged the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) to concretize its active functionality for the development of the country.

The Minister gave this charge when the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Victor Muruako and management staff of the Commission, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.

He encouraged the group to study and emulate developed countries that had encountered similar challenges with Nigeria during their struggling years in order to extract the policies and strategies they applied and thus produce developmental recommendations for Nigeria’s development.

Bagudu further urged the Commission to concern itself with the federal government providing social amenities to Nigerian citizens rather than setting limits of consolidated debts for all tiers of government.

The Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Victor Muruako, speaking earlier, applauded the Ministers’ role in affording the Commission’s staff several opportunities for trainings but appealed for more of such opportunities.

He therefore solicited for the Minister’s assistance for increase in the budgetary allocation for the commission to enable the commission deliver on its mandate.

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