President Muhammadu Buhari has assured of a boost in the agriculture value chain of the country by increasing fertilizer production to at least 1million metric tons by the end of 2018.
This, he said, would also be spearheaded by the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, which did an average of 500,000 metric tons in 2017.
The President said this while launching focus labs for the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday.
The focus labs as initiated by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning have been designed as closed-door investment platforms to identify and accelerate high-impact projects with significant impact on GDP and job creation.
The labs are expected to help the federal government achieve sustainable, diversified and inclusive growth, to become self-sufficient in basic commodities and to curtail food imports.
According to the President, the labs are also meant to diversifying the economic base from crude oil dependence, empower local businesses to create jobs and improve the general wellbeing of the people.
Buhari said, “We plan to build upon the success of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to double the 500,000 metric tons of fertilizer delivered to States, agro-dealers and farmers in 2017, by achieving production output of 1 million metric tons in 2018.
“The Labs we are flagging off today constitute one of the many strategies this Administration is taking to ensure that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan is effectively implemented.
In further remarks, Buhari said the last ten months of his administration economic growth returned in second quarter of 2017 due to a clear follow-through of some of the economic initiatives he set out to implement.
This he noted resulted in the consolidation of the recovery path reaching a Real GDP growth of 1.92 percent by the fourth quarter of 2017.
“We have also restored stability in foreign exchange market and have recorded improvements in our foreign reserves which have grown from 24 billion US dollars in September 2016 to 42 billion US dollars by mid-February 2018 and now 46 billion US dollars.
“This has been achieved partially because of the recovery of oil prices on the international market.
“We have also made remarkable strides in creating a conducive business environment for investors, earning the World Bank’s ranking as one of the Top 10 most improved economies in 2017. This has encouraged both local and foreign investments in the last few months,” the President told participants at the ERGP launch.
Meanwhile, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said government was targeting $25 billion to be raked in through private investments.
“We are targeting to mobilise at least $25 billion or its equivalent in Naira, in private investments and about 240 projects have so far been screened for the labs. Many have asked whether we are not being too ambitious in targeting $25 billion.
“My answer is that we have no choice. We actually need multiplies of $25 billion or its equivalent in Naira, of new investments to create enough jobs to address the high unemployment rate in the country.
“So, we will not stopping after the first set of labs, we will hold more labs and we shall keep on addressing all constraints to investments, until we achieve the goals we have set for ourselves,” Udoma stated.