By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that his administration would double the production of fertilizer from 500,000 to 1 million metric tons for delivery to states, agro dealers and farmers this year.
The President gave the assurance at the launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Lab held in the Conference Centre of the Presidential Villa yesterday.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, who also spoke at the launch said the government was expecting about $25 billion or its its Naira equivalent in the ERGP Laboratories.
Buhari, who noted that the nation’s local food production, particularly rice, has witnessed a remarkable growth saved the nation millions of dollars of foreign exchange, said “We plan to build upon the success of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to double the 500,000 metric tons of fertilizer delivered to States, agro-dealers and farmers in 2017, by achieving production output of 1 million metric tons in 2018.”
The President said the Focus Labs constitute one of the many strategies that his administration was taking to ensure that the ERGP is effectively implemented.
According to him, “Focus Labs have been successfully used in other countries. The Labs in Nigeria are designed as closed-door investment platforms to identify and accelerate high-impact projects with significant impact on GDP and job creation.
The Labs will also enable pre-screened private sector investors to have access to senior government officials, regulators, and cabinet ministers. The goal is to efficiently and effectively resolve the most pressing bottlenecks delaying their proposed investments.”
Recounting the economic milestones of his administration, the President said “In the past ten months, we have achieved several noteworthy milestones. As you are aware, economic growth returned in second quarter of 2017 due to a clear follow-through of some of the economic initiatives we set out to implement. Since then, we have consolidated on the recovery path reaching a Real GDP growth of 1.92% by the fourth quarter of 2017.
We have also restored stability in foreign exchange market and have recorded improvements in our foreign reserves which have grown from 24 billion US dollars in September 2016 to 42 billion US dollars by mid-February 2018 and now 46 billion US dollars. This has been achieved partially because of the recovery of oil prices on the international market.
We have made remarkable strides in creating a conducive business environment for investors, earning the World Bank’s ranking as one of the Top 10 most improved economies in 2017. This has encouraged both local and foreign investments in the last few months.
We remain committed to working hard to attain our target of moving up in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings by 2020.
We are also investing billions of naira in fixing infrastructures across the country. Significant progress has also been made in the Agricultural sector with the expansion of the Anchor Borrower’s program to more beneficiaries to boost our local production.”
Talking about expected investments in the Labs Udoma, said “We are targeting to mobilize at least $25 billion or its equivalent in Naira, in private investments and about 240 projects have so far been screened for the labs.
“Many have asked whether we are not being too ambitious in targeting $25 billion. My answer is that we have no choice. We actually need multiplies of $25 billion or its equivalent in Naira, of new investments to create enough jobs to address the high unemployment rate in the country.