Ecobank says Nigeria has the capacity to feed Africa’s estimated 1.2 billion people if it harnesses the gains of the agricultural value chain.
According to the bank, success in Nigeria’s agricultural sector means the reduction in the demand for foreign exchange to import food items into the country and the development of the agribusiness value-chain with a resultant effect in the creation of a new breed of entrepreneurs as well as jobs for the teeming population.
Ade Ayeyemi, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), stated this on Thursday at the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit in Lagos. The summit had its theme “Unlocking Productivity and Investment Opportunities Across Nigeria’s Agribusiness Value Chain”
According to Ayeyemi, Ecobank decided to create a platform of a Summit to enable thought-leaders who are passionate about agriculture and its importance to Nigeria’s economy to put heads together and find ways to maximize the significant potential gains of boosting agribusiness in Nigeria.
He said Ecobank works with various governments and businesses within its footprint to provide support in harnessing and mining value from the huge natural resources across the continent. “The success of this Summit and its objectives is therefore important to Ecobank, as we do know Africa remains fully committed to contributing to its economic development – a core objective of our founders”.
Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Nanono affirmed that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to finding a lasting solution to issues bothering on food security affecting the country.
Nanono who was represented by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri also stressed on the need for viable synergy and collaboration between relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector, so as to further promote its contribution to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the country.
“The aim of this submit is indeed very apt as it would contribute on creating a sustainable economy through the development of rural agricultural enterprises. It is gladdening that this forum has brought together small-holders, input dealers, agro-processors, development finance agencies, policy makers and the captains of industries under one roof to discuss the problems and challenges facing the sector, with the view to finding solutions and way forward.
“This summit also marks another milestone attraction in the journey of economic diversification in line with the vision of the economic recovery growth plan of the current administration of his Excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari, to boost agricultural production prosperity, promote innovative technologies and investment in the agricultural sector, in order to achieve poverty reduction and job creation.
“Nigeria’s potentials and prospects, makes the agricultural sector a pilot for economic stabilization, diversification and growth in the country. Indeed, the sector is a major contributor to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributing about 27 percent to the GDP and the biggest in job creation in the non-oil sector.
“As you are aware, the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari is committed to finding a lasting solution to addressing the issues of food security in the country, as well as encourage local farmers to produce more and better-quality food for all. The aim was to restore the glory of the country’s agricultural sector, which before the oil-boom was we all know, was the main driver of Nigeria’s economy.
“Let me also reiterate, that under the current dispensation, the agriculture sector has engineered more farmers for providing the required raw materials for the development of the agro-allied industry in the country.
“With the noticeable growth in production in agriculture, agricultural and food sector, The has been on stimulating agricultural export, to increase our foreign exchange earnings. In doing this, we are giving attention to meeting the requirements of not only the locals, but also international market.
“At present, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is promoting and supporting the development of special agro-industrial processing funds, in collaboration with the African Development Bank (ADB) for value addition, import substitution, job creation and international market. Commitment and support would continue to be given to the areas of promoting foreign and local enterprise to advance level of credit and investment in agriculture as a veritable step to diversify the economy.
“Within the overall sets of policy principles, the federal government is concentrating on providing an enabling environment and enabling playgrounds for stakeholders at all levels, to enhance investment and capital flow into the sector,” he said.
The maiden Ecobank Agribusiness summit in partnership with Vanguard Newspapers had exhibitors and hundreds of participants from within and outside the country in attendance.