By Hawa Lawal
Abuja – Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun has promised to stem the migration of youths to overseas countries in search of jobs by creating employment opportunities via the Agritech Nigeria Programme.
The governor expressed the commitment on Thursday night in Abuja at a sensitisation dinner organised for diplomats and captains of industry on the Agritech Nigeria Programme.
Aregbesola, who was represented at the meeting by the Deputy Governor, Mrs Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, said that as part of the Agritech Nigeria Programme, the Federal Government and the Osun Government were organising the International Agro-Technology Exhibition and Conference.
He added that the exhibition and conference had “Transformation of Nigerian Agriculture through Sustainable Technological Innovation’’ as its theme.
He said that the event, which would hold in March 2019, would create employment opportunities for the youth and, in essence, stem the desire of youths to travel abroad “in search of greener pastures.
“Agritech Nigeria is coming at a period when the Federal Government is diversifying the nation’s economy from reliance on petroleum resources to agriculture, as part of the economic recovery and growth plans of President Muhammadu Buhari,’’ he said.
Aregbesola said that agriculture had been globally recognised as a tool for economic transformation, adding that his administration believed that sustained agricultural production with modern technology would facilitate efforts to stabilise and improve the national economy.
The governor said that over 200,000 participants from different countries across the world, drawn from the full spectrum of agriculture, were expected to attend the event.
Aregbesola said that the number of prospective investors in various value chains of agri-business expected at the event would attract foreign capital into Nigeria and help create job opportunities for unemployed youths in the country.
He added that the programme would strengthen Nigeria’s efforts to diversify its economy with agriculture as the cornerstone.
He noted that Nigeria, which had the largest population in Africa and the largest market economy on the continent, was blessed with many resources which foreign investors had yet to exploit.
Besides, the governor noted that more than 45 million Nigerians were engaged in farming, adding that the farmers were, nonetheless, in need of modern technologies and innovations to boost their productivity.
Aregbesola solicited the participation of embassies and high commissions in Nigeria in the forthcoming event, adding that they ought to have pavilions at the exhibition venue to showcase their countries’ agricultural technologies and allied products at the Agritech Nigeria Osun 2019.
“We are also calling on international and local financial institutions to support and sponsor youth empowerment programmes during the event.
“Agritech Nigeria Osun 2018 is an international conference and exhibition that offers a meeting place for manufacturers, researchers, investors, academics, purchasers and decision makers, representing both local and international interests,’’ he said.
Speaking, Amb. Fahad Al Taffaq, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to Nigeria, noted that Nigeria had a lot of opportunities to benefit from the experience and expertise of his country, particularly in the area of agriculture.
He pledged that UAE was ready to deepen bilateral cooperation between the two countries, especially in science-based agricultural development and other areas, to boost agricultural production.
He commended the Osun Government for the initiative which, he noted, would facilitate efforts to enhance the socio-economic development of Nigeria and its citizens.