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SECRETS OF THE WEALTH OF RICH NATIONS & WHY THE WORLD IS NOT WINNING THE WAR AGAINST HUNGER — Agriculture Is the Hope for Development — Says Akinwumi Adesina

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“There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem. “But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand’’ – President Barack Obama in his inaugural speech.

OUR PROMISE: At inception over two years ago, TERRIFIC HEADLINES assured our loyal readers that we are out to contribute our quota to the BUILDING OF A GREATER NIGERIA through this medium and its associated channels. We indicated that we operate as a NON-POLITICAL and NON-PARTISAN outfit that pays huge attention to contemporary issues, particularly good governance, leadership, forging an enduring political culture, peace, human security, and international understanding. We are committed to promoting ethical and social responsibility by adhering to rules and regulations as a responsible and responsive outfit that will not detract from commitment to meeting international standards.

Therefore, our publications have reflected writings done in good faith, and for future generations, in recognition of virtues and values that are worth reading and recording for posterity.  It is our policy to give greater consideration to stories that promote development, and de-emphasize soft unverified information and gossips. We knew that it might take some time for us to capture the very wide audience we targeted, given the fact that most of our publications deal with the development of Nigeria, Africa and the Diaspora. But we a glad to disclose that we have, by the grace of God, and dedication, taken remarkable strides that have made us reach all parts of the world.

WHAT IS WEALTH? World Bank Group publications define wealth and GDP as ‘’complementary indicators that provide a fuller picture of economic well-being. A country’s comprehensive wealth includes all produced capital such as factories and roads; natural capital like forests and water; human capital, which leads to earnings; and net foreign assets. Of particular importance are the development of human and natural capital. The World Bank, therefore, encourages countries of the world to invest more in their own people. Former World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim asserted that: “There cannot be sustained and reliable development if we don’t consider human capital as the largest component of the wealth of nations.”

TREMENDOUS SUFFERING GLOBALLY – WE ARE NOT WINNING THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL HUNGER: President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has asserted that: “There is tremendous suffering going on in the world. While progress is being made, we are not winning the war on global hunger. There cannot be peace in a world that is hungry. Hunger persists in regions and places going through conflicts, wars and fragility. Those who suffer the most are women and children”  Adesina who believes a peaceful world will be a food secure world, pointed out that only 1% of the world’s richest own 50% of global wealth. He argued further: ‘’Nothing is more important than ensuring that we feed the world and eliminate hunger and malnutrition. Hunger is an indictment of the human race. Any economy that claims growth without feeding its people is a failed economy. Nobody has to go hungry, white, black, pink, orange or any colour you can think about. ‘’We must reduce global income inequality. We need wealth, yes, but we need wealth for everyone, not just a few. Today, the poor are stuck and only end up eating crumbs, if any at all, that fall from the tables of the rich. This sense of exclusion and lack of equity or fairness often drives conflicts. We have an opportunity to reverse the situation through sustainable agriculture as a business, and not as an aid programme.

SECRET OF WEALTH OF RICH NATIONS:  Akinwumi Adesina, in his remarks at a Lecture of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, in Rome, Italy stated that: The secret of the wealth of nations is clear – rich nations process all of what they produce – whether in agriculture, minerals, oil and gas or services – while poor nations export their produce as raw materials. While demand for raw commodities is elastic, demand for processed and value-added commodities is relatively inelastic. The future of food in the world will depend on what Africa does with agriculture. I am sure you must be saying did I hear right? Yes, you did. Africa holds 65% of the uncultivated arable land left to feed 9 billion by 2050. Its’ vast savannas are the world’s largest agriculture frontier, estimated at 400 million ha. But only 10% of this is cultivated. That’s a mere 40 million hectares.

VAST OPPORTUNITIES: AfDB’s policy is about turning all rural areas of Africa from ‘’zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity’’ Adesina argues that agriculture is not working properly and the work on hand is to ‘’get countries to understand that agriculture is not a way of life, agriculture is not a development activity, agriculture is a straight line business’’ In his analysis, he disclosed that: ‘’Africa accounts for 75% of the world’s cocoa production, with 65% of this being produced in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, but the continent is a price taker and receives only 2% of the $100 billion annual revenues from chocolates globally. The reason is because Africa exports just raw cocoa beans. This pattern is the same for other commodities in which Africa is a major producer. Africa produces 146 million tons out of the 268 million tons of cassava in the world – or 55%, 5.4 million tons of the 5.6 million tons of cowpeas globally – or 9.62 million out of the 28 million tons of millet globally – or 43% and 29 million tons of the 69 million tons of sorghum globally – or 42%.

WESTERN WORLD AS MODEL: Every so often, we refer to the Western world as model of development. We deride Africa as the poorest continent afflicted by terrible woes of poverty and squalor. But we fail to examine issues responsible for development. We see Dubai that raced past Nigeria on the road to development. We point to Singapore as a nation that has grown from the Third to the First World, within a relatively short period. What should ideally be of concern to reasonable Nigerians is how to move our nation forward. We fail woefully to highlight the human factor – Why for instance do some of us sabotage efforts of government by destroying infrastructure and engaging in obnoxious acts? Why do we do things that draw the whole of society backward?  There are conflicts galore in homes, offices and practically everywhere.

AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK’S POLICY: Akinwumi Adesina reveals that: ‘’The African Development Bank (AfDB) plans and policies are geared towards getting Africa to be a global powerhouse in food and agriculture because 65% of the cultivatable arable land left in the world is in Africa. And so we want to turn that into real wealth to help Africa benefit. But for that to happen, we have got to make agriculture cool and that is why AfDB launched the ”Enable Youth Initiative”  – to initially help young graduates get into agriculture as a business and create a new young dynamic in the agriculture and agribusiness sector in Africa to replace the rapidly ageing population. As a bank, we are committed to investing roughly €12.75 billion in these projects over the next 10 years, and our goal is to help start up at least 300,000 agribusinesses through this effort and create about 1.5 million jobs’’ Not too long ago, AfDB invested close to €680 million to kick off the ‘’ENABLE Youth Programme’’ in six countries – Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Nigeria, Sudan, and Zambia. We also launched another initiative to help young entrepreneurs in particular, but not necessarily in agriculture, called ”Boost Africa”  This is a joint programme that we launched with the European Investment Bank and invested roughly €200 million to help support about 2,000 young entrepreneurs in various sectors, but mostly small and medium enterprises.  (Interview with WREN Media)

REVERSING THE TREND: As revealed by the AfDB President in the interview cited above, ‘’Today, Africa is spending €30 billion a year importing food. If nothing is done, that is going to reach €93.5 billion by 2030. And so, when Africa manages to feed itself, this will be important for the general market and economic stability of African countries, preservation of foreign exchange, transformation of rural areas, and creation of jobs for millions and millions of people. Therefore, agriculture must be at the centre of the economic diversification strategy and wealth creation in Africa. I believe that the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come out of the food and agriculture industry – not out of oil and gas sector – because nobody eats oil and gas. There is obviously a greater need, more than ever before for the reorientation of all Nigerians to embrace the right values and virtues. Let us look inwards and examine those issues that could make the country move along the envisaged path of progress.

FOCUSING ON RURAL AREAS: But producing raw materials is not enough. It is time for Africa to move to the top of the global food value chains, through agro-industrialization and adding value to all of what it produces. In spite of producing 75% of cocoa beans in the global market, Africa accounts for only 2% of the €85 billion global chocolate market. Other issues that demand attention are Africa’s production of a lot of cotton but all of it is exported as raw cotton fibre. And the same thing goes for coffee. African countries are in the top 10 major coffee bean producing countries in the world, but we export them abroad as coffee beans. Now taking a look at chocolate, the price of cocoa will always decline, but never the price of chocolate or any derivatives of cocoa. And the price of coffee beans may go down, but not the price people pay at Starbucks for drinking coffee. For Africa to get at the top of the value chain, Adesina advocates agricultural industrialization for Africa’s products

GETTING OUR YOUTHS INVOLVED & INTERESTED:       RESCUE MISSION – AGRIBUSINESS AS A VIABLE OPTION: Agriculture holds the key to prosperity in Africa, as the sub-sector has the capability of helping Africa’s economic transformation.  President of African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, in his remarks at the presentation of the 2015 Action Plan for African Agricultural Transformation conference in Dakar asserted that “The agricultural sector in Africa has four times the power to create jobs and reduce poverty than any other sector. ‘’The future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe” nor should it be “at the bottom of the Mediterranean.” He proposed rather that an agribusiness-driven economy could be one of the economic reasons Africa’s youth choose to remain on the continent. “We must turn rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity,”

Adesina said further: “This requires new agricultural innovations and transforming agriculture into a sector for creating wealth. We must make agriculture a really cool choice for young people. ‘’The future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come initially from agriculture” and therefore, suggested an economic theory of industrialization that sees Africa’s industrialization starting from the agricultural sector. Adesina said that agro-industrialization has greatest potential for Africa to achieve more rapid and inclusive growth – and create jobs…‘’If you want industrialization of Africa, and massive job creation, focus on industrializing the agriculture sector. ‘’To rapidly modernize agriculture, youth must be engaged in the sector and perception must change for youths to regard agriculture and see agriculture as a business.’’ (WREN Media)

STAY IN NIGERIA – YOU CAN PROSPER WITHOUT GOING ABROAD: Adesina finds an ally in Dr. D.K. Olukoya, a molecular scientist and General Overseer of the Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries also has an a word for those bent on travelling at all costs: ‘’My dear young people, why not learn a vocation in addition to your degree and start your own business? With Chinese products gradually becoming expensive, Africa can be the next factory to the world to replace China. ‘’We can become the world’s solar energy headquarters if we could develop cheaper solar panels using our local materials. With so much land available, farming for export is a wonderful opportunity. Our young people should consider converting the Internet and social networking sites to forums for sharing best practices with their overseas counterparts on how to modernize artisan professions like building, mechanic, tailoring, textile design, farming, metalwork, etc. The world is eagerly waiting for our products in the global market.

STREETS OF DEVELOPED NATIONS ARE NOT PAVED WITH GOLD: Beloved, the streets of America and Europe are not paved with gold. They were built over many centuries by men like us, who sacrificed by investing in themselves and their fellow countrymen. Their children are reaping the dividends today. Young Christians, encouraged by parents, should spearhead a revolution of patient hard work, entrepreneurship, innovation and self-enhancement. We desperately need our dignity back. God says that wherever the soles of your feet tread, you shall possess. Like Joseph and Daniel, you can excel anywhere you find yourself.

YOUTHS – PREPARE TO TAKE OVER BUT LEARN THE RUDIMENTS OF GOOD GOVERNANCE: Those leaders of pre-independence Nigeria knew what they wanted and prepared very hard to locate themselves in strategic positions. History records them as having done well. They found their mission relatively easy to accomplish because they were very prepared: psychologically, emotionally and educationally. They had very broad horizons because they developed their intellect to be able to compete with just anybody in the world.  They were matured in behaviour and practice as they moved the country to greater heights with increasing skills. None of them was 50 years old at the time they fought for Nigeria’s independence. There are feelings that these great Nigerians have an edge of aspiring leaders of this era because the equipped themselves properly by reading voraciously and with fortitude, while also having strategic plans for total development.

GOOD GOVERNANCE:  All fingers point to agriculture as the hope and good governance as the overriding factor, without which Newton’s Laws of Motion will continue to subsist. The famous scientist’s third law states that: ‘’For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’’ Therefore, for every minute misapplied in the wrong direction by all of us through our failure to imbibe the principles of good governance, there would be counter-reaction that would take us back by the same measure of force. Therefore, no matter how hard we try, those well-intentioned messages might not work except the target audience receives the messages through policies and programmes packaged by African nations that should push the agenda of the AfDB through their governments at the three tiers.  The social disorientation on several important issues is very high such that youth are not easily convinced about what they are told.

A UNITED & PROGRESSIVE NIGERIA: The consolidation of democracy and good governance are very two important factors of development that African nations are grappling with. The world is indeed changing. It is important for a definite political philosophy or a coherent set of principles to evolve that will give meaning and direction to a country’s political culture and institutions for development to be recorded. Apparently, there is no magic wand for turning the situation around, beyond good governance, leadership, viable democratic culture, planning and visioning, as well as commitment and dedication of the part of all Nigerians. Many countries of the Far-East, widely known as the Asian Tigers were at the same level of development as Nigeria in 1960; they have all now pulled far ahead and transformed their economies. Countries like China, Malaysia, India, Japan, and South Korea have performed economic miracles through massive investments in their human capital and have been able to develop their manufacturing sectors. And this is why my choice of leader would always be based on personal conviction

THE WAY FORWARD: EXAMPLES FROM THE DEVELOPED WORLD: Singapore remains a case study in commitment and dedication to the common good. Nigeria is still in search of a common set of values that all Nigerians can relate to. The Vision 2010 document points out that: ‘’What is required is a paradigm shift in the country’s political, socio-cultural and economic values’’ It concludes that “politically, Nigerians need to build a society that upholds and defends the principles and practice of democracy, respects fundamental human rights and the rule of law, cherishes and promotes unity in diversity. ‘’Socio-culturally, Nigerians need to build a society that emphasizes national identity and merit, rewards excellence, honesty, integrity, respect for the rule of law, caring for one another and the environment, as well as co-operation and harmony.’’

HONEST INTENTIONS: I WILL LISTEN TO YOU WHEN WE DISAGREE – OBAMA: Can we possibly succeed as a nation? I say, in the words of Barack Obama – ‘’Yes, We Can’’ Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States. Obama’s victory speech as crafted by his Speech Writer – Jon Favreau introduced the catchphrase – YES, WE CAN’’. Obama’s first speech as president-elect of the United States is worth reading; as it contains some very inspiring pronouncements from which one could learn a lesson or two about patriotism and devotion to serving his country – the United States. I WAS NEVER THE LIKELIEST CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES — BARACK OBAMA “There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem. “But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand’’

“What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

“Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our politics for so long. “Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

I NEED YOUR HELP: Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. “And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too. “And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

HOPE IN THE FUTURE: WHEN A 106 YEAR OLD WOMAN VOTED FOR AMERICA’S POLITICAL FUTURE — Obama stated that: ‘’To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you” And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: “This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

ELECTING OUR PREFERENCES: That above dealing with ‘Hope in the Future’ was Barack Obama’s dream. There might be several undiscovered similar dreamers walking our streets in Nigeria today. Our problems are multifarious and go beyond mundane issues of who governs according to religious inclination. The dangerous trend of ethnicity, religious intolerance, advancement of sectional interests, feelings of mistrust and intolerance pervade the atmosphere. Restiveness that could cause political conflagration is one of the problems that we should come together to resolve for the common good. The sad and regrettable occurrences that have been recorded in various parts of the country are partly attributable to the influence of the elite class who have benefitted profoundly from these ills. The good thing is that all these problems are surmountable. Barack Obama said in his inauguration address: “And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. ‘’I need your help. ‘’And I will be your president, too’’

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