Saturday, September 26, 2020 / 5:20 PM/ Nifemi Taiyese for Proshare WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV
The institutional framework will go a long way to incentivize more investments into the Nigerian Agric sector. The Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Food Security Council and Member, Presidential Fertilizer Availability in Nigeria, Governor Atiku Bagudu disclosed this while giving his goodwill message at the Sterling Bank Agric Africa Summit 2020.
The Governor of Kebbi State noted that the avalanche of creativity coming from the youths is bringing innovation and technology to transform Agriculture in the country. According to Bagudu, Nigeria is on its way to making Agriculture the number one foreign exchange earner shortly, and will also create stable employment and profitable opportunities for those in the Agricultural sector.
Dr. Kwesi Attah-Krah Director, Advocacy and Country Alignment Function (ACAF), IITA DG's Office, presenting the keynote address with the topic "Unleashing the Potential of Agriculture for National Development in Africa" challenged Sterling Bank to go beyond 10% in giving loans by identifying some specific partnerships and collaborations. This, according to him, would help to show a direct engagement in projects aimed at achieving stronger partnerships between the private sector and technical organizations, and help in the realization of food security in the country and Africa.
"To achieve agriculture transformation for our continent, we need to be serious about engaging private sector actors with more investments being made into the sector. The current investment level is unacceptable" Dr. Attah-Krah said.
He brought to the fore the need for stakeholders in the agricultural ecosystem to leverage research and innovation to unleash the potentials in Agriculture. He highlighted the two wings approach of 'Research for Development' and 'Partnerships for Delivery' needed for growth as research alone is not enough.
Speaking on the challenges, the keynote speaker mentioned that from the mismanagement of the situation and causes beyond Africa's control, the continent already grappled with food and nutrition insecurity before the pandemic outbreak of COVID 19.
He added, "on a continental basis and an annual level the food import bill is frightening at 35billion a year and is projected to be 110 billion by the year 2025".
"In terms of unleashing the potential, it needs to begin with a mindset transformation and a re-alignment from seeing agriculture as a cultural activity associated with pain, penury, poverty into the domain of a business which will build elements of efficiency, productivity, wealth and jobs".
The first-panel session on public-private partnerships (PPPs) was moderated by Tayo Aduloju Senior Fellow Public Policy, NESG. It featured the representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vice President Corporate and Government Relation, OLAM, Mr. Ade Adefeko, Jude Uzonwanne MD, TUG Capital Partners, Inc.
Aduloju said that Agriculture is by consensus the key to achieving inclusive growth. He noted that agriculture had a job creation imperative, however, across the continent post-harvest losses remain significantly large.
Looking at agriculture from a Nigerian perspective, he observed that since independence the sector has been featured as a key transformation pillar of an economic transformation model, however, the results have not been substantial.
The Director of Agribusiness and Market Development in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Babade said in designing policies and program for promoting investments in Agriculture, there is a need to take into cognizance the entire value chain to cover protection, quality, standard and marketing infrastructure that will deliver best products for agro-industries to thrive.
Mr. Ade Adefeko said the role of government in the sector was critical to unlocking growth in the economy and should be an enabler in terms of policies with the private sector in charge of driving growth. There must be a nexus between the government and the private sector.
Mr. Jude Uzonwanne called for the de-risking of the agricultural sector and was of the view that the capital mix has to reflect the challenges and opportunities in the market place and encourage prospective individuals/organizations, who want to enter the agricultural ecosystem to get into the field and operationalize activities.
The Executive Governor of Cross River State Professor Ben Ayade in his goodwill message shared the interface and relationship between a sub-national like his state and Nigeria as a nation. The Governor mentioned that as a state Cross River has focused tremendously on industrialization with emphasis on agro-industrialization.
Governor Ayade asserted that agro-industrial activities create the avenue of having industrialization while also creating massive employment. The industrialization that focuses on the massive creation of labour at the primary production level, spreading across the garment, pharmaceutical and the cocoa processing factory etc.
"The end focus is to create a superhighway that connects all of the agricultural industries into the deep-sea ports, creating the agricultural infrastructure that allows harmonious connectivity between people, industries and exports is the basic philosophy that underpins job creation," Governor Ayade said.
He stressed that Agro industrialization is not just critical for an alternative source of income to oil, but is also a critical source of employment.
The second-panel session titled building a sustainable ecosystem for smallholder farmers had as its moderator Professor Sani Miko Country Director Sasakawa represented by Isaac Eni.
Chidinma Lawanson Country Rep Mastercard Foundation talking about the Agri space said at the foundation they look at how financial services institutions, can unlock value by ensuring they provide affordable financing to the smallholder farmers while linking them to markets to give them required inputs.
Mr. Segun Falade Group Manager Golden Agric Inputs Flour Mills during the panel session, speaking on sustainably incentivizing farmers, said the focus of his organization is to add value to the smallholder farmers through various processes taken to aggregate products.
On his part, Mr. Kola Masha, MD Babban Gona, said there has been a consistent increase in risks, associated with crop production, particularly lack of weather predictability. He stated that Babban Gona has led the way in developing innovative insurance products such as yield index insurance products. The organization also finds it important that the farmers have access to technology in the event of shocks to keep the farms resilient and adaptable.
Ms. Chichi Aniagolu Country Rep, Technoserve was of the view that many of the small farmers are not credit ready, and she highlighted that there are a lot of preparations and training they need to embark on for them to be ready and meet lending requirements. She re-emphasized the need for more investments, in the area of supporting the farmers through grants and extension services.
Giving the closing remarks, the ED Institutional Banking Sterling Bank Immanuel Emefidem said the virtual summit emphasized the necessity of digital innovation and technology, input financial intermediation, the impact of climate change, public-private partnerships and building of a sustainable agricultural ecosystem.
He alluded to the fact that at Sterling Bank they were inspired, motivated and energized by insights shared at the virtual event from the keynote speakers, panellists, government representatives, multi-lateral and research institutions and the other value chain players in a bid to accelerate the transformation of the agricultural sector in Africa.
This can be done through outside of the box thinking/ideas, bold recommendations/propositions and policy disclosures that will truly make Africa and Nigeria the world's next revolution in agriculture.