Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria’s wealth lies more on the agriculture value chain than on the extractive industry.
Osinbajo expressed this view on Friday in Abuja while performing the inauguration of the Seeds for Future Foundation and Education Grant—an initiative of Olam Agri.
Olam Agri is a leading agribusiness firm focused on high-growth consumption markets.
The vice president said that through the seeds of the future programme, Olam had invested in two important types of seed.
“First, the seeds you are planting by investing in the education of our young people through the education grant initiative for undergraduates.
“The second of course, is the very successful award-winning wheat seeds trial project which I am told achieved its first peer milestone of producing 10 kilograms of pre-multiplication wheat seeds varieties and was showcased by the UN General Assembly at the climate summit and nominated for an international grant.
“But I think it is seeds that you plant by investing in our agricultural value-chain—from research to people especially disadvantaged women–that has attracted even greater attention leading to the National Productivity Order of Merit Award which was presented to Olam by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The planting of these seeds shows your firm belief in our country and its innovative and how it is that the story of our country will ultimately yield fruits of prosperity, peace and decent livelihood for all.’’
He said considering that Olam started off in Nigeria, few years ago and had grown to 60 different countries, it was evident that Nigeria’s soil was very fertile.
Osinbajo said it also entailed that the seeds that were planted in Nigeria were very prolific.
“I do not think that there is any other business that demonstrates the importance of faith, patience, resilience and hope as agriculture does.
“Planting seeds, tending them until they create food, wealth and sound health for all.
“So, it is an absolute pleasure to see how these important attributes now form the values for the Seeds for the Future Foundation.
“And the Seeds for the Future Foundation espouses the same values through its various interventions; very well done indeed.’’
Osinbajo applauded Olam Agri for the hard work and commitment it had put in agricultural and food processing in Nigeria especially.
He listed areas where the firm had excelled as wheat-milling, rice farming and milling, tomato farming, hatchery, soya bean processing, agricultural export—cocoa, beans, cashew nuts and sesame seed.
“I think that one of the very important things that we learn from the hard work that you put into agriculture and food processing is that this is really where the potential of our country lies.
“This is really where the wealth of our country lies, not just in the extractive industry but more in agricultural value chain especially export of manufactured and processed goods.
“I think that here, we have a very strong advantage and I am told that aside oil and gas, Olam comes close second in terms of exports and I think this is very commendable indeed,’’ he said.
The vice president commiserated with Olam Agri over the monumental loss occasioned by the flooding of Olam Rice Farm in Nasarawa State.
Earlier in his welcome speech, Ashish Pande, Senior Vice President and Country Head, Olam Agri, said that the firm was born in Nigeria and was eager to create the best seeds for the tropical nation.
According to him, Olam Agri is diversifying from seeds development to human development hence the Seeds for Future Foundation.
“The foundation works on four different levers; it talks about working on farmers and farmers associations, it talks about education and sports development.
“It talks about women empowerment and finally, being a food company, it talks about promoting health and nutrition for the population,’’ he said.
Osinbajo was earlier led on an exhibition tour by Olam Agri officials.
The highlight of the event was the unveiling of the Seeds for the Future Memorabilia.