The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said the federal government will use revenues from exported agriculture produce to pay the nation’s debts.
Ogbeh who said this during discussions to begin the second phase of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme, WAAPP, in Nigeria said “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.
“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.
“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 be facing major embarrassment.
“So, we will take part of our loans and invest it in agricultural projects that young people pursue exports so that we can earn both foreign exchange and naira.”
“The rest of the loans will go into the 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 was 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 member countries of WAAPP are Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.