President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, says the President Muhammadu Buhari government has committed more resources to diversification of the economy than any previous administration. Lawan spoke at the weekend during the inauguration of a Poultry Farm Centre established by the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) at Gasamu, in Jakusko Local Government Area of Yobe State.
The senate president said no past government had invested as much resources in agriculture as Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) government.
He stated, “We have promised to diversify the economy of this country. For more than 50 years, our economy had been dependent on one single commodity and that is oil. Oil does not provide so much employment opportunities.
“There could be revenues but, definitely, not the mainstream opportunities in terms of employment. But when you diversify into agriculture, you would have much more people engaged, especially, our youths, who today are largely unemployed or underemployed.
“So we are diversifying the economy of Nigeria through agriculture and we have done so much as a country, as a government, in the last six years or so. No previous administration in Nigeria has committed as much funds, resources in agriculture as this administration.”
Lawan added, “I stand to be contradicted that if not because of resources that we have put in the agriculture sector, Nigeria would still have been importing the food that we eat. But everyone knows that the rice import bill have gone so low, almost to nothing today.
“We used to spend billions of dollars every year to import rice, but we have been producing the rice that we eat.”
The senate president, while thanking Buhari for approving the farm project, said it was in fulfilment of the promise made by the president on behalf of APC in 2015, to provide employment opportunities for the youths.
According to Lawan, “This is one way of doing that and this is a very practical way of doing it. We have our youths who will be engaged. Presently, 30 youths will be engaged to manage the farm.
“This is only the direct employment on this farm. When you look at the indirect opportunities, when you establish poultry farms across this zone, you would have brought in many youths to manage the poultry farms.
“Gasamu, because of this project, is now going to be prominent in the Nigerian map. And this is something that is very important for us as a community here. If someone will come from Kano. If someone will come from Imo. If someone will come from Akwa Ibom to buy chicks here, to go and grow them and sell them to make money, why can’t we in this community do the same?
“This is one of the immediate benefits and I will urge our people not to lose the opportunity. I want to seize this opportunity also to appeal to NALDA that we want the capacity to go beyond 250,000 per annum. I want to assure you that our people will exhaust the 250,000 and they will need more.”
Speaking also, Executive Secretary of NALDA, Paul Ikonne, said the farm centre was established on the mandate of the president in order to empower the youth and get the country closer towards achieving food security.
According to Ikonne, the farm has the capacity of generating 850 crates of egg daily and N1.1 million daily from the sale of birds only.
He said the birds had an incubator centre to produce day-old chicks that could be used to establish other poultry farms or sent to other poultry houses across the country.
The NALDA executive secretary said the revenue projection of the farm centre, with the capacity of 250,000 birds, was not less than N400 million annually.