Nigeria is looking at India to support its economic diversification especially in the agriculture sector.
A recent meeting between leaders of the two countries is expected to multiply India’s investment in the country, as India is set to begin to grow variety of its rice locally.
Nigeria, a substantial importer of food grains, is now keen in making agriculture the biggest alternative to oil and gas business in its diversification initiative.
The issue came up for discussion during bilateral talks by Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja.
“Nigeria is a substantial importer of food grains. There are lot of land in the country which can be used for the purpose of growing Indian variety of rice and pulses.
This was one of the key areas identified during the talks,” Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Amar Sinha said.
Nigeria also expressed keen interest in cooperation in the field of rice processing and emulate India’s agricultural model and capacity.
In July, the Nigerian government had approved a policy named ‘The Green Alternative’ to make agriculture the biggest alternative to oil and gas business in its bid to diversify its economy.
Under this policy, the government aims to do everything that is needed to achieve self-sufficiency in agriculture and also become a major exporter of agricultural products.
During the talks, the two sides also held discussions on a range of issues including cooperation in the field of security, defence, ICT, culture, oil and gas, concessional credits, bilateral air services agreements, power, IT, telecom, infrastructure and fight against terrorism, Sinha said.
A memorandum of understanding was signed on standards between the Bureau of Indian Standards and Standard Organisation of Nigeria.
Besides a letter of intent on agreements on health, customs, transfer of sentenced persons, and new and renewable energy was signed, he said.
Ansari handed over President Pranab Mukherjee’s invitation to Buhari to visit India which is likely to take place next year.
On terrorism, issues like perception, exchange of information and what joint action can be taken were discussed, Sinha said.
Ansari said that the ties between the two countries were solid and there was little disagreement.
The two sides decided to increase the area of cooperation and strategic partnership on defence issues.
India offered to extend help in Nigeria in several fields including space technology, nuclear applications, ICT and science and technology.
Ansari also complimented Nigeria for democracy taking its roots in the country and lauded the efforts of its defence forces in securing the release of Dubai-owned MT Maximus which was hijacked by pirates.
Describing Nigeria as a great energy talent, he also stressed on the need for diversifying and creating more balanced use of energy.