Agriculture: The basket that feeds the nation.

 

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by Opeoluwa Dapo-Thomas

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, when life shows you pepper, make pepper soup. So when life gives us recession, what do we make out of it? Honestly I wish I knew. But what I do know is that it’s high time we diversify the economy. Only someone who has got the ostrich syndrome will not know that over-reliance on oil alone is detrimental to economic development. Ask South Sudan and Venezuela, how they are both faring?

In the light of this, I want to re-introduce an old friend, his name is Agriculture, and he used to be the happening guy after independence. He accounted for 65 per cent of our GDP and represented almost 70 per cent of total exports. Agriculture provided the foreign exchange that was utilized in importing raw materials and capital goods. Then the Politicians discovered Oil and neglected my friend Agriculture. Poor thing. It will be cliche if I reiterate the benefits of Agriculture but for the sake of emphasis I will. Revenue generation through (export substitution and taxation of agro-allied companies) is a major benefit. Creation of employment and provision of food for the nation are also important benefits. But still the Politicians neglected him for Oil.

Rethinking Africa From The Ground Up

 

This begs the question, why is agriculture treated like the “Side Piece” and Oil as the “Main Mistress?” I do not know, but what I do know is that in the grand scheme of things, Agriculture; if encouraged, harnessed and commercialized can be the solution to our problems. This can be elucidated by the current administration’s willingness to diversify the economy. There was a 13-point agenda on Agriculture raised at the two-day retreat of the National Economic Council (NEC) last year highlighting agricultural policies that can help in the revival of the economy.

As a protagonist for agriculture, I also recommend there must be industrialization as well before we can fully reap out of the proceeds of Agriculture. Industrialization of the agricultural sector is key. I read something about Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa wealth sometime ago. Cote d’ Ivoire produces 33% of world cocoa and exports to manufacturers such as Hershey’s, Mars Inc. (both in the US) and Nestlé (Switzerland). Cote d’Ivoire earns 2.5billion dollars yearly from exporting raw cocoa. While Mars that buys Ivorien cocoa and makes several products from it such as Bounty, M&M, Mars and Milky Way, to name a few made a net income of 18 billion dollars from chocolate products alone in 2015, according to the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO). Compare that to Cote d’Ivoire’s 2.5 billion dollars gained from export. What a contrast!

Conclusively, I believe once the government and private individuals put the right pieces together, Agriculture can be the panacea to our wobbling economy. The question is, are we ready to pick up the lemons and make a lemonade stand?

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Could Tourism be the new oil well in Nigeria?

 

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by Damilola Oshifowora

With Nigeria plunging into recession that is said to last at least five years, it’s no wonder a percentage increase in Nigerians are looking inward to solve this unending economic battle. We’ve seen the government begin to increase investments in other sectors after different explorations, the major ones being Agriculture & SMEs, to name a few. However recently, we’ve seen the government begin to dip it’s whole leg into Tourism. Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 2016 World Tourism Day, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said; “The Federal Government is working day and night to pull Nigeria out of recession and put the country’s economy on the path of sustainable growth. It is becoming increasingly clear, like President Muhammadu Buhari has admonished, that we must think outside of the box. We must find other sustainable means of earning foreign exchange outside of oil to grow our country’s GDP and create jobs for our people. While Agriculture and Mining are a few viable options, Tourism is the low hanging fruit in this regard and we must not hesitate to pluck it.”

 

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If there’s one key thing to take away from this speech, it is that culture and tourism is a necessary and strategic decision that would enhance the prospects of diversifying revenue generation channels of the country for the development and growth of the national economy. With the likes of Obudu cattle ranch, Olumo rock, Badagry’s firsts, Kano city sites and the soon to be Eko Atlantic as top sights in the tourism sector, we think Nigeria has the potential to make it’s Tourism sector into a revenue generating channel for the economy. But can the Tourism sector become the new oil well?

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