Speaking at the signing ceremony in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwuni Adesina, said Nigeria was ready to learn from the Israeli experience.
He noted Nigeria-Israeli relations dated back to the 1960s and that Israel played a key role in the development of sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria.
The minister said that Nigeria had become a multi-million-dollar export market for Israel, adding that more than 50 Israeli private companies were operating in the country.
Adesina said Nigeria would benefit in the area of livestock, mechanisation, horticulture, irrigation, fisheries, research, land management, restructuring rural areas and training of personnel, among others.
“Therefore, I propose that we develop an Israeli-Nigeria agribusiness partnership that would further increase investments and financing between our private sectors.
“As we sign the joint declaration of bilateral cooperation on agriculture, we enter in to a new phase of relationship with Israel on agriculture.’’
Responding, Israel’s Minister of Agriculture, Mr Yair Shamir, said he considered the country’s contribution to Nigeria’s agriculture as a “missionary act”.
He said Israel was not as rich in resources as Nigeria as about half of the country had been taken over by desert.
He said they worked very hard, invested in research to revolutionalise agriculture in the country after their return from exile.
Shamir said this century was Africa’s century, stressing the need for Nigeria, as the leader of the continent, to generate fresh ideas and take its rightful position at the centre.
“As a nation, we are blessed by God and the only thing we can do is to obey him by sharing what he has given us; we are readyto do everything possible to support Nigeria not only in agriculture but in other fields.
“We are open to anything we can do, we have a lot of technologies, a lot of ideas to share and I know you are ready to accept it.’’
Shamir welcomed the request for the training of youths in agribusiness and some members of staff of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the State of Israel.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mrs Ibokun Odusote, observed that nearly four per cent of Israel’s population were farmers and were able to feed the nation and produce for export.
She lamented that Nigeria, with a population over 160 million people, with a vast arable land of about 54 million hectares with huge potential still imports food.
Odusote said the country was excited to partner with Israel which had conquered climatic challenges to be self-sufficient in food and expressed optimism that the country would help Nigeria surmount its challenges.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highlight of the event was the signing of the MoU and exchange of gifts between the ministers.