The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Thursday advised the Federal Government to deploy the Natural Resources Development Fund to support enterprises within the agriculture and solid minerals sector as a way of diversifying the nation’s economy.
Lawan made the call in his concluding remark after the upper chamber considered a bill during plenary seeking to develop tea and coffee growth, production and marketing in Nigeria.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to the President of the Senate.
According to the Senate President, “the Natural Resources Development Fund is supposed to support such enterprises in diversifying the economy through the real sectors such as agriculture, solid mineral development and so on.
“I believe that we have a way of ensuring that this bill and subsequent other bills would definitely help to improve and sustain our economy,” he said.
Earlier, sponsor of the bill, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC – Taraba Central), said the Bill for An Act to provide for the establishment of the National Tea and Coffee Development Council, if passed into law by the National Assembly, would enhance rapid economy diversification of the agricultural sector, as well as enhance revenue to the government.
He noted that states like Taraba, Plateau, and Cross River in the South are endowed with suitable climate and soil conditions that could be harnessed for commercial cultivation of tea, especially around the Mambilla, Jos Plateau and Obudu Range.
He added that, “it is regrettable that governments have not made any major impact in terms of active involvement and/or participating in tea and coffee growth, production and marketing sectors of the economy.”
“The only government presence in the development of tea production could be placed to the mid 70’s, when government officials netted into a joint venture with some state governments and private entrepreneurs to set up a tea farm and factory in Taraba State,” the lawmaker said.