The diversification of the local economy as strongly advocated by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is beginning to yield good fruits.
India has approached Nigeria to supply it with $1billion (about N367 billion) worth of Pulse Beans.
The Director, Agricultural Business, Processing and Marketing, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Azeez Olumuyiwa, made this revelation at a sensitisation workshop on agriculture held for officers of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
He said that the offer was tabled by the Indian Ambassador to Nigeria, Nagabushana Reddy, at a parley with Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh.
“The Indian ambassador said Pulse Beans is a food variety consumed four to five times daily by Indians. He has offered to buy $1billion worth of the products from Nigeria if we can produce it,” Azeez said.
According to him, India, the world’s second most populous nation, required 27 million metric tonnes of pulse beans. Nigeria’s current production capacity for the produce is about 47 million metric tonnes.
Pulse Beans is a good source of iron and is mainly grown in Bauchi, Borno States as well as in Shaki, Oyo State. The federal government has also admitted unease at China’s plan to begin to use bio-ethanol gasoline across the country by 2020.
The use of bio-fuel, seen as an alternative to fossil energy, is discomfiting for Nigeria as China is one of the major buyers of her crude oil.
Rather than continue to import fuel, China wants to focus on bio-ethanol gasoline production which is a derivative sourced from sugarcane and corn.
Ogbeh, who revealed government’s mood on the development, also stressed that two months ago, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, Norway and the Netherlands have indicated plans to ban fuel-run cars in about two decades, to reduce air pollution and save fossil fuel energy.
“It is not a particularly soothing news for us because with this development, there will be less demand for oil and gas. By 2030, all these countries will be using electric cars. The only way to prepare us from the revenue that will no longer be available from oil is by focusing on agriculture,” Ogbeh said in a speech read by his Special Assistant, Winifred Ochinyabo.
The minister said that only 44 per cent of Nigeria’s 79 million hectare of arable land was currently utilised, while the country requires six million metric tonnes of rice per annual to feed its large population.
The agricultural workshop was held for the NAF officers to encourage them to embrace farming after retirement.
The programme covered orientation on distribution of inputs materials, warehousing, processing of food, livestock farming, bio-fuel production and running of agric extension work. The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, was represented at the workshop by NAF Chief of Administration, AVM Lawal Alao.