The Queen of Netherland, Her Majesty, Maxima Zorreguieta, has charged Nigeria’s economic managers to as a matter of urgency address the nation’s infrastructural challenges, noting the need to build roads, railways and ensure digital financial inclusion for Nigerian farmers to boost food production.
The Queen stated that agriculture is music to her ears being the daughter of a former Minister of Agriculture, urging Nigeria to make infrastructure available for investors and aid donors to access areas beyond the major cities.
She stated this during a bilateral meeting with the President Muhammadu Buhari at the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA
She however lauded the huge effort made by Nigeria to combat the pandemic, saying that the country spent a great part of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to fight the pandemic.
Zorreguieta said that she had a huge commitment to Nigeria and would want to support the country to do more.
“You won’t be alone. We will be there along with other partners,” she affirmed.
Responding, President Buhari stated that the decision to shut the nation’s border in August 2019 paid off, noting that Nigeria would have been in a food crisis when the pandemic struck.
According to him, the policy made farmers return to their farms and encouraged Nigeria to consume what it produces.
He added: “When the borders with some neighbouring countries were closed to encourage farmers “eat what we grow”, people went back to the land and the status helped the country tremendously.
“We made fertilizers available, resuscitated dams, and it all paid off handsomely. Otherwise, with about 200 million people, we would have been in trouble when COVID-19 struck, and affected the economy.”
Buhari said with increased investments in the agriculture sector, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, Nigeria can produce more food.
He noted that Nigeria was well aware of her limitations, and thus prioritised the provision of infrastructure.
“We have the land, we have the people, capital input is what we need,” Buhari added.
The president also pointed out that the Nigerian farmers were quite receptive to modern ways of doing things, especially in respect of cutting down post-harvest wastages.