Umudike - Dr Mark Abani, the Country Director, Crown Agents Nigeria Limited, says that the neglect of agriculture poses imminent danger to the nation’s economy.
Abani was a guest lecturer at the 5th Convocation Lecture of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, held at the University auditorium on Friday.
The lecture is entitled "Agriculture, Education and Entrepreneurship as catalyst for National Development".
He said that Nigeria’s inability to feed itself further threatened the nation’s security.
The country director argued that Nigeria’s dependence on mono-economy, oil and gas, meant that "any changes to the demand for those products will directly damage us".
According to him, that danger is real and looming as alternative energy sources are being explored.
Abani, however, charged the graduating students not to despair, pointing out that the development poses very tangible opportunities for them to grasp and exploit.
He maintained that food security and education were identified in vision 20:2020 as key transformational drivers for the nation and the achievements of our goals.
He recommended the use of entrepreneurship approach to agriculture as catalyst for agricultural transformation necessary for wealth creation.
He expressed regrets that agriculture had been treated in Nigeria as a hobby, arguing that it could only become profitable if a business approach is used.
Abani maintained that the end result would be an increase in investment in the sector, job creation and security.
The country director also spoke extensively on the comparative benefits of the value chain marketing as against the traditional selling system.
The chairman of the occasion, Dr Greg Ibe, charged the graduating students to develop their creativity and entrepreneurial skills to succeed in the outside world.
"The world out there is not a bed of roses; you are to explore the opportunities offered by the environment in order to contribute to national development," he said.
Ibe, who is also the Chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu, said that Nigeria had great potential to become a world leading economy through agriculture.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Hilary Edeoga, described the topic of the lecture as apt and strategic to.
Edeoga said the topic would further drive the message home that agriculture remained the livewire of Nigeria’s economy.