Nigeria will get out of recession as fast as possible if its citizens return to farming, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, has said.
He said the economic bedrock of Nigeria was agriculture and had remained so despite the discovery of crude oil.
He stated this on Saturday in Abuja at the 2017 edition of the Mike Omotosho Annual Lecture titled: ‘Increased Agricultural Productivity for Sustainable Economic Growth.’
The monarch stated that the collapse of the naira against the United States dollar and the present downturn in the economy would be addressed fast if Nigerians embraced farming.
He said, “The bedrock of this nation (is agriculture and) we have all abandoned it. That is why we are where we are today. Everybody has a backyard to make a garden, either in your office or your house, but when last did you plant vegetable?
“What are we all doing? This is a sleeping nation. We cannot continue like this. Where is our cocoa revolution? From 1930 to 1945, Nigeria was the largest exporter of cocoa. The entire focus was on Nigeria and from cocoa we moved to the period when we discovered oil and gas in the 1950s and 1960s.”
Ooni lamented that Nigeria had failed to exploit its vast agricultural resources, stressing that many cash crops were not given the desired attention and that the country was losing fortunes as a result of the situation.
He said, “Everybody is shouting that the exchange rate is increasing by the day, but are we using dollar to plant the farmlands? No, we are not using dollars. It is labour and seedlings and (let us do this and) look at the way God will multiply it.
“I did an analysis for youths in my kingdom and I told them that the price of cocoa is rising while crude oil prices are falling and this is one reason we must go back to farming.”
He also told guests at the event that he decided to lead by example, stating that this was why he started a snail farm in his palace. “There is a huge market for the product which players in the business are unable to fill,” he said.
In his address, the founder of the foundation, Mr. Mike Omotosho, said there was an urgent need to increase Nigeria’s agricultural productivity tremendously.
“This will not only boost local consumption and reduce our dependency on imported agricultural products for local consumption, but if well harnessed, can also boost our foreign exchange earnings when we have processed and stored our excesses for exports and future use respectively,” he said.