By Donald Ugwu
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, invited Russian farmers to invest in Nigeria, produce and export to Europe to earn foreign exchange.
Osinbajo told a Russian delegation which visited him at the State House, Abuja, that “we are just six hours away from Europe by air. Vegetables and flour can be exported to Europe from here; from our local markets.”
The vice president told the Russian delegation, led by Mr Alexander Tkachev, the Russian Minister of Agriculture, that the availability of arable land in Nigeria made the case for improved local agricultural production highly imperative.
Osinbajo noted that although foreign exchange was a major constraint, it was more reasonable to produce locally, rather than continue to import, with its significant pressure on dwindling foreign earnings of the country.
He said “oil prices have gone down tremendously and yet large amount of foreign exchange is used to purchase food abroad and we have large arable land for agriculture.
“It won’t make sense if we don’t use the land.”
According to him, there is money to be made if Russian technology in agriculture is deployed
locally, adding that there are better opportunities for economic cooperation between both countries.
Both the vice president and the delegation agreed that Nigeria and Russia should deepen the existing diplomatic relations, especially economically.
Earlier, the Russian agriculture minister had expressed his country’s willingness to enhance the existing trade relations with Nigeria.
Tkachev, who is also the Co-Chair of the Nigeria-Russia Joint Commission, observed that Nigeria-Russia trade volume as at the end of 2015 exceeded 300 million dollars, adding, however, that
there were potential for improvement in the years ahead.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the delegation included the Russian Ambassador in Nigeria, Amb. Nikolay Udovichenko, Russian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr Evgeny Gromyko and officials of Russian firm United Company (Rusal).