Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We’ll use food exports to pay debts — FG – Vanguard Newspaper

                                                             
Audu Ogbeh

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, stated this while considering calls made to commence second phase of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme, WAAPP, in the country.

Ogbeh also expressed optimism that the debt burden of the country could be drastically reduced through generation of foreign exchange from food exportation.

He said: “A portion of any loan we take now will be dedicated to encouraging agricultural production and exportation of products grown by young people and women.

“We just have to earn more foreign exchange because we must pay our debts. According to statistics, we are spending 66 per cent of all our tax revenues on servicing debts.

“If we are servicing debts and not paying the principal, in another 10 years, this country will be in such debts that will make us to be facing major embarrassment.

“So, we will take part of our loans and invest it in agricultural projects that young people pursue for exports, so that we can earn both foreign exchange and Naira. The rest of the loans will go into training of youths and promotion of our produce.”

Meanwhile, the Minister, who also commended the results achieved in the first phase of WAAPP, said the World Bank was working assiduously to ensure the commencement of the second phase of the programme.

He said: “The World Bank is preparing for the next phase but this time around, the input from the ministry will be stronger.

“They (World Bank) did quite well but there were duplications in our programmes; we intend to streamline them now.”

The objectives of WAAPP has been on transforming West African agriculture by boosting agricultural productivity and its sustainability, reducing hunger and improving nutrition as well as creating jobs and supporting collaboration across borders.

The programme has 13 participating West African countries, including Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Ogbeh, told newsmen in Abuja that the new policy would boost agricultural production, while facilitating efforts to improve exports of agricultural commodities.

Ogbeh was reacting to calls by stakeholders to commence the second phase of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme, WAAPP.

The minister said the generation of foreign exchange through the exportation of agricultural produce would also help the country reduce its debt burden.

“A portion of any loan we take now will be dedicated to encouraging agricultural production and exportation of products grown by young people and women.

“We just have to earn more foreign exchange because we must pay our debts. According to statistics, we are spending 66 per cent of all our tax revenues on servicing debts.

“If we are servicing debts and not paying the principal, in another 10 years, this country will be in such debts that will make us to be facing major embarrassment.

“So, we will take part of our loans and invest it in agricultural projects that young people pursue for exports, so that we can earn both foreign exchange and naira.”

“The rest of the loans will go into training of youths and promotion of our produce,” he said.

Ogbeh expressed satisfaction with the first phase of WAAPP and noted that the World Bank was working toward the onset of its second phase.

“They (the World Bank) did quite well but there were duplication in our programmes; we intend to streamline them now.

“The World Bank is preparing for the next phase but this time around, the input from the ministry will be stronger,” he said.

WAAPP is a multi-year effort to transform West African agriculture by boosting agricultural productivity and its sustainability, reducing hunger and improving nutrition as well as creating jobs and supporting collaboration across borders.

The 13 participating countries of WAAPP are Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

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