By Akanimo Sampson
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, says avocado production in Nigeria will soon make the dominant crude oil economy history, predicting that in the next 10 years, the country could become one of Africa’s largest avocado producers.
Obasanjo made the prediction during a courtesy visit of the Avocado Society of Nigeria (ASN) to his home in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, just as the Nigeria Union of Agricultural and Allied Employees (NUAAE) is calling on the Federal Government to cut down on the cost of governance and pump in more investments in the agriculture and allied sector.
The union is also charging President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to downsize the number of political appointees and forfeit their security votes, pointing out that the move will transform the fortune of the country’s economy and create more sustainable jobs for the teeming population.
NUAAE National President, Simon Anchaver, made this call during the delegate congress of Ekiti State chapter of the union in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
According to Anchaver, Nigeria’s overreliance on the oil and gas sector was hurting the economy and there was need to break free, and accordingly urged the government to waive or reduce taxes on agricultural equipment in order to make agriculture attractive to youths.
Anchaver was however, represented by the National Trustee of the union, Comrade Ogundana.
Chairman of the state wing of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Kolapo Joshua, while tasking agricultural stakeholders in the country on innovative agriculture, he urged them to propose more ideas to the government on the development of the agriculture sector to harness its benefits for economic growth.
In the mean time, Obasanjo who owns Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited, was conferred the honour of the Grand Patron of the ASN.
Speaking, he expressed high hopes for avocado production in the country as his farms is diversifying into producing the fruit.
“I want to see Nigeria becoming one of, if not the leading, avocado producer in Africa”, Obasanjo says, noting that the enthusiastic nature of the farmers could bring his prediction to fruition.
Adding, he said the country possessed all qualities needed to take over the East African countries in avocado crop planting, pointing out that avocado cropping, if expressly tapped into, could overthrow the crude oil economy.
“Those of us who have been privileged to know about avocado production must not hold the information to ourselves. In my simple opinion, this is the new oil of Nigeria, if it is effectively tapped into”, ehe ex-president said.
Continuing, Obasanjo said, “avocado is a unique crop and very lucrative business which can be done as either a business or a hobby, from having a plantation or just a few trees in one’s compound.
“I am happy to be a member of this association. I hope more people will appreciate the value of the avocado business and join us either as a hobby or as a business. Avocado is a very healthy fruit with numerous benefits.
‘’The oil as well as the pulp from it is used in the cosmetic industry, pharmaceutical companies, and therapeutic activities. I will say a bit of avocado every day keeps the doctor away.”
CEO of the Society, Ambassador Sola Bunmi Adeniyi, laid facts to Obasanjo’s claims, urging Nigerians to tap into the prospects in the fruit production, saying “the multi-million naira investment in avocado by the Grand Patron (Obasanjo) clearly shows that he is an unrepentant lover and advocate of agriculture.
“You heard him saying the potentials of this crop in the next decade; therefore avocado production must be tapped into by all. Baba is the Society’s Grand Patron because we believe in his capacity and we want him to lead this awareness for the good of our nation and the prosperity of our people.”