Economist advises FG to invest more in agriculture



An economist, Dr Aminu Usman, has advised the Federal Government to invest more in agriculture during the current rainy season and support farmers with inputs to boost food production.
Usman, a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Kaduna State University, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that agriculture should be given priority because of its huge employment capacity and the onset of the rainy season.
“The government should ensure adequate supply of fertilisers and other critical inputs to ensure massive food production.
“This will eventually bring down the consumer prices of food commodities, which is the major source of inflation in the country,’’ he said.
Besides, Usman said that increased investment in agriculture would boost Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and aid efforts to bring the country out of recession.
The recent GDP released by the National Bureau of Statistics stated that the nation’s GDP contracted by -0.52 per cent (year-on-year) in real terms in the first quarter of 2017.
The bureau stated that it represented the fifth consecutive quarter of contraction since first quarter of 2016.
“Looking at the figures, one thing that comes to mind is that we are still in recession but there is likelihood that we will soon be out of it,’’ Usman said.
The don, however, said that the modest progress recorded was in the relative stability in the crude oil price and suspension of the criminal disruption of the oil production in the Niger Delta area.
Usman urged the Federal Government to continue to engage the Niger Delta militants in serious negotiations so as to sustain the peace in the area and boost the country’s economic growth.
“The government should continue to engage the group to stop the destructive activities since the country has no influence on the international crude oil prices.
“It then means that the focus should be on domestic economic policies that will ensure continuous growth in all the other sectors of the economy.
“For instance, the GDP report shows that oil contributes only a paltry 8.90 per cent to the GDP, as against the non-oil sector’s contribution of 91.10 per cent,’’ he said.
According to him, the GDP report is commendable and encouraging but a lot needs to be done to translate this improvement to improved living conditions of the citizens.
Usman said that the actions and utterances of the people indicated that they were feeling the pains of the recession now more than ever.
“This, in effect, means the modest growth recorded did not translate into an improvement of the living conditions of the people.

“Statistics alone cannot change the quality of life but good and sustainable people-oriented policies will,’’ he added.  

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