As Nigeria continues in its quest to diversify from the oil and gas sector into other sustainable branch of the economy, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has revealed that Nigeria will generate at least 3.5 million jobs in the agricultural sector by the end of 2015.

Speaking at a briefing by African Ministers of Finance at the World Bank/IMF meeting in the US, Iweala said the government is making this assertion based on the number of investments made into the sector in recent times – which in turn has improved the value chain in agricultural activities in the country.

“It is important that once you have established micro economic stability, you should be able to look at how the growth is impacting, and that is why the Nigerian government has taken some steps to ensure that we create jobs and also improve on the standard of living of the people.

“For instance, we are planning to be self-sufficient in rice production by 2015, and that is why the current Minister of Agriculture has said that agriculture is no longer to be seen as a project, but as a business,” she added.

Okonjo-Iweala however urge African countries to work harder at creating their own markets, internal demand and reduce barriers among African nations, to be able to stimulate growth and reduce the continent’s vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s central bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, at a recent MOU signing involving United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Agriculture, in Abuja, disclosed that bank loan to the nation’s agricultural sector has increased by almost 300 percent in the last four years.

According to him, lending increased from N75 billion ($472 million) in 2008 to N300 billion ($1.8 billion) in 2012, amounting to about 4 percent of banks’ portfolio.

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