The Executive Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) Moor Plantation, Ibadan, Professor Veronica Obatolu has advised churches to invest in agriculture in order not to depend on the contributions of its members only.
Obatolu made this call while speaking at the 3rd Academic Symposium of the National Association of Catholic Theology Students, Dominican Institute, Ibadan, on the theme:: “Strategic Impact Investment in Agriculture and Agro Allied Industries: An Insight”
The first female Executive Director of IAR&T noted that Agriculture being the oldest occupation of mind kind still remains the solution in financing and boasting the economy of the country..
She explained that “if the church must play the role of supporting sustainable livelihood, it is vital for her to better understand the impact of any investments in the agricultural sector.
The professor of Human Nutrition disclosed that Nigeria depends on agriculture as it employs up to 70% of the populace and accounts for almost 27% of the country’s GDP.
“In Nigeria, everyone of us depends on staple food produced from farms. This is very important, because reducing food import is crucial to Nigeria’s quest for sustainable development. “Despite the fact that we are blessed with fertile soil, we still import majority of our food from outside. More than 80% of Nigerians purchase their farm produce from the market.
Agriculture is the highest employer of labour in the country, employing up to 70% of the population and contributing up to 27 percent of the GDP. It is one single sector that has the potential to lift millions out of poverty and ensure sustainable development,” she noted.
She went on to reveal some harrowing statistics on Nigeria stressing why Agriculture is the way out.
“Nigeria has the prevalence rate of 32% of under-five stunted children. With this percentage, Nigeria is the second highest globally.
“In every 10 children, at least 3 are malnourished. This is why some of our children are not doing well in school, what you eat affects your intellect. About 7% of child-bearing women in Nigeria are malnourished.
“Without gainsaying, we need to go back to agriculture. This is the only way forward, this is the only way the country can grow. The Church also can key into this sector so that they can contribute to not only the members, but also to the economy of the country they find themselves in.”
Investing in Agriculture and agro-allied industry is essential to the church future and well being of proclaiming the gospel with more justifiable economic development” Obatolu stated.
In an interview with CEOAFRICA, Obatolu while speaking on the gain that the church stand to get if they invest in Agriculture explained that the church will be able to fulfill their role in sustaining the livelihood of their members stressing that if parishioners do not have means of livelihood, it will be difficult for them to grow spiritually.
She stated that if the church wants their mebers to grow spiritually, there is need to provide source of income for the members.
The IAR&T Executive Director advised the church to create a forum in Agricultural sector where the members can be employed.
She further stated that churches investing in Agriculture will contribute to social,environmental welfare and food security in our society.