“BUT the question to answer is this: How can Nigeria drive economic diversity and productivity in the agricultural sector? One solution is to embark on agricultural industrialisation and implement innovative financing models that cater to the needs of both low-income farmers and high-income processors. We need to start looking critically at the whole agriculture value chain.”
Mr. Olukayode Pitan, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Bank of Industry (BoI), stated this during the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) 2nd Edition of the African Food and Products Exhibition and Conference, themed: Non-Oil Exports’ Scaling up Productivity to Meet Global Demand.
Represented by the Executive Director, SME, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, he said: “We are not strangers to the potentials of agriculture and the benefits it presents for the Nigerian economy. In fact, this is why agriculture is one of six sectors identified for growth in the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP). For us as a nation, agriculture should not be treated as just a social sector intervention for managing poverty but more as a business for creating wealth and empowering citizens. It is the kind of business that can help many African nations, including Nigeria, diversify revenue, reduce import dependency, create jobs and develop rural areas.
According to him, in the past 10 years alone, international food trade has increased by over 50 per cent.
He quoted the World Bank: “Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness trade are projected to reach $1 trillion by 2030 as compared to the current market size of just under $350 billion. This three-fold increase would translate to more jobs, greater prosperity, less hunger and significantly more global trade for African farmers… All this in less than 12 years from now! It is evident that the agricultural sector is competing on a global scale and scaling up productivity will help Nigeria become a leading player, regionally and internationally.”
In the words of the President of NACC, Chief Olabintan Famutimi, the country has entered an era in which micro, small and medium enterprises are needed for economic growth and development.
“Their impact is systemic and all-encompassing: from the integration of essential goods and services like apparel and fashion, beauty and wellness, foods and beverages, art and crafts to the promotion and establishment of non-oil exports. In light of this, we must do two things: we must scale up our productivity and we must make our response even more relevant in the global space”
He said the chamber will continue to loudly remind all stakeholders of the need to promote and preserve micro small medium enterprises and to apply international best practices and other relevant frameworks, such access to market, access to business funding, export value chain process, and the full implementation of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).