The Wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, has called for increased collaboration between the organised private sector, and the public sector including financial institutions to increase food production for Nigerians populace.Osinbajo made the call yesterday in Abuja, during the maiden annual Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), and Nigeria Incentive-Based
Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Agribusiness and Policy Linkage Conference.
She stressed the need for a stronger desire among stakeholders to collaborate, and team up to meet the needs of Nigerians, especially with regard to food security and employment generation.
She commended NACCIMA’s decision to collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture, and other financing institutions to fund agri-businesses and employ unique skills, and deploying requisite technology to drive information on accelerated value chain, and provide information of available opportunities in Agribusiness to a wider audience.
She tasked the conference to come up with decisions that would be beneficial to Nigerians, saying: “Behind all the facts and figures are men and women, girls and boys, who are at the receiving end of government plans and actions, as the decisions taken at the conference would have a ripple effect on the entire nation.
“Your work and successes at these ventures mean success or failure for them. Many depend on you for what to do, because your work or success means the men and women would be able to feed themselves and success for a graduate who have not been able to secure jobs to feed themselves.”
The Managing Director, NIRSAL Aliyu Abduhameed, who spoke on the theme, “Implementing the Agricultural Component of the Economic, Recovery Growth Plan,” noted that that ERGP acknowledge the fact that investing in Agriculture has the potential to guarantee food security, job creation, increase foreign exchange earnings reduction in inflation and economic diversification.
He decried that despite the abundance of labour, land, water, and extremely large market including in West Africa, the third quarter (Q3) 2017 GDP revealed only three per cent sector growth, signaling underperformance against ERGP target of five per cent.
He attributed the agriculture’s underperformance to low information technology, high interest rate, poor mechanisation practice, as the method of agricultural production are very crude, and lack of access to modern technology.
Abduhameed explained that the collaboration with NACCIMA is to create an enabling business environment for the promotion of competitiveness through policy advocacy, information dissemination and networking.He said: “the NACCIMA/NIRSAL partnership is a strategic approach to solving endemic problems that are deterrent towards increasing finance and agribusiness investment.
The National President of NACCIMA, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, maintained that Nigeria went into recession during Q2 2016, because of the dwindling oil prices, and the unsuccessful attempt by government to diversify the economy into agriculture, which was compounded by over-reliance on importation for commodities required for industrisation.
Commending the launch of the Agricultural Promotion Policy (2016-2020), she said it is a policy strategy that advocates disciplined approach for growing agribusiness through improved productivity of some domestic crops, and prioritising for the export market.
Lawson said the aim of the conference was to maximise agricultural productivity by increasing public awareness of the potential of agriculture, and to generate and commercialise new agricultural technologies that meet local market needs. She equally called for improvement in data collection, and evidence-based reporting for monitoring, and evaluating the progress of the Agriculture Promotion Policy
“The opportunity in the agriculture sector is immense with a population of over 180 million, and the west African population of 300 million. The local market for agricultural produce is very huge within the ERGP programme, and government is set to open a minimum of 10,000 irrigation land by 2020 among other programmes.”