The governor, who described the dependence on oil as unsustainable, noted that with increased investment in agriculture, the country will be able to grow sufficient produce to ensure food security, create jobs and improve the livelihoods of citizens.
Obaseki spoke while addressing members of the Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria (POFON), who were on a courtesy visit, at the Government House, Benin City.
Predicting a bleak future with the country’s current overreliance on crude oil, Obaseki said there’s an urgent need to diversify as the nation’s dependence on oil has not been able to enhance the global competitiveness of its economy.
The governor, however, noted that his administration remains committed to economic diversification through agriculture and will sustain programmes and reforms aimed at boosting the sector and ensuring food security.
He said, “As a people and as a country, it is all about economic competitiveness. Whether we like it or not, the current DNA of the Nigerian economy is being forced to change. That means our overreliance on crude oil has not increased our global competitiveness, particularly in the oil trade.
“For us in Edo, we, fortunately, saw this coming and we have prepared ourselves for this transition that we are witnessing. We are in a race against time, just reading the news and seeing what other countries are going through as a result of the Ukrainian war.”
Obaseki continued: “It’s really scary that we cannot continue in this direction. Last week, Indonesia and Malaysia banned the export of oil palm. Specifically for us in Edo, agriculture is key because food production is our priority. First, let’s feed ourselves and the extra we have, we will use it to trade.
“We are glad that we have members of the Plantation Owners Forum of Nigeria. You can say whatever you want about agriculture, but at the end of the day, it’s about skill and the training of the personnel, which I believe is the most important aspect in agriculture.”
“If we don’t get all of these right, we cannot compete. We need to be able to produce at a competitive rate to be able to sell. So, that is why I want to encourage you to continue what you are doing. For us in Edo, we have a huge opportunity and a unique advantage because you can’t transverse Nigeria without coming to Edo,” the governor added.
Earlier, the Chairman of POFON, Mr. Emmanuel Ibru, who identified the importance of agriculture to the economy, said Edo is one of their major palm oil-producing states in the country as most of their major stakeholders are from Edo.
Commending the governor for his initiatives to boost agriculture development in the state, he noted, “We know that Edo has been making giant strides in various oil palm initiatives. We want to commend you once again.”