Worried by the near absence of result by the various agricultural research institutes in the country, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono has promised to change the narratives by allocating adequate funds for agricultural research by various Agricultural Research Institutes under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Nanono who stated this in his goodwill message to the FirstBank 2019 Agric Expo organized by the First Bank of Nigeria Limited in Lagos on Friday with the theme, “Agricultural Value Chain: Spotlighting Opportunites and Managing Risks”, noted that it was shameful that despite all the agricultural research institutes scattered all over the country, Nigeria still buy seeds from Ghana, Burkinafaso, Mali among others.
According to him,” For whatever reason, we cannot do without research and this is where I will direct attention because all the research institutions in this country, they have big buildings, big offices, everything that they require but the money allocated for real research is not there and that is what I intend to change this time.
“I have met with most of the research institutes under me, about 20 to 30 of them and when we were discussing, I told them with all these Professors and others we have not been serious, then where is the impact. We still buy our seeds from Ghana, from Burkina Faso, from Mali, what a shame! We owe 60 per cent of the GDP of West and Central Africa, we can’t be ignored but we are ignored because not serious on this most important thing.”
He pointed out that the days of sectoral lending was over adding that commercial banks and other developmental financial institutions would have to come up with measures to fast track the development of agriculture and agro-allied industries in this country.
“The days are gone when financial institutions will just sit down, they have to be proactive and I think in this regard, I will like to congratulate First Bank of Nigeria and I hope that First Bank of Nigeria, being the first will lead the way to this important revolution”, he said.
The Minister stated that achievement of agriculture transformation in Nigeria was the key to achievement of the first three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including poverty, achieving good health and wellbeing as well as offering decent work and economic growth assuring that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was determined to build a formidable partnership with key relevant stakeholders not only to provide for agricultural sector but also to create an enabling environment for agro-industrialization.
He said, “Our initial focus will be on the following; review of agricultural policies, master plan and action plan, rural agricultural development, successful agric investment, agricultural education and mechanization, technical and training facilities for farmers, centralization of agricultural inputs, agricultural research and agro support and fund and developmental support for the participants in the agricultural sector, year round farming and reviving extension services.”
On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo described the theme of this year’s edition of the FirstBank Agric Expo as apt in view of the current reality which he said was indicative of the necessity for a paradigm shift towards harnessing the potentials and opportunities in agricultural sector.
Adebayo who represented at the event informed that the federal government of Nigeria was committed to entrenching economic diversification which was driven by agricultural commodity sector for the attainment of most especially food security.
“The focus is the attainment of expanded production of diversified products through effective support to value addition. This is intended to create a competitive product which is a sine qua non for expanded market and sustained foreign exchange earnings for the country. In doing this, the federal government has put in place diverse strategy towards strengthening the agricultural commodity sector as clearly spelt out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“One of those strategies is the ease of doing business which the federal government is pursuing vigorously through infrastructural development such as power, transportation system both rail, road and aviation, reduction in time taken for business documentation and registration and general support to SMEs development among others”, he stated.
He however expressed his happiness that the federal government was getting the support and cooperation of the private sector at ensuring that the opportunities and potentials in the agricultural commodity sector are tapped.
“I commend First Bank for this annual event which is focused on changing the agricultural commodity sector. The federal government is committed to sustaining the partnership with organizations to work for the development of the agricultural commodity sector”, he added.
Also speaking, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu while commending the First Bank group for initiating the programme as a platform to showcase the country’s potentials in agriculture, insisted that all must contribute to efforts to achieve food security for our country.
Sanwo-Olu who was represented at the expo by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Gbolahan Lawal said that it was noteworthy that this edition of Agric Expo was holding on the eve of the recent federal government policy on access to foreign exchange through the Central Bank of Nigeria for importation of food items describing it as a decisive action underlining the need to refocus attention on the agric sector and explore all the opportunities available for the socio-economic development of the country.
He said, “We have all that is required to reclaim the lost glory of this sector which was the mainstay of our economy contributing substantially to our GDP. The greatest potential in agricultural sector and wealth creation lies in its value chain. It is in this light that I consider the theme of this third Agric Expo ‘Agricultural Value Chain: Spotlighting Opportunities and Managing Risks’ very apt.
“It is a call for action in the area of policy formulation and implementation including provision of necessary infrastructure support to encourage inflow of investments into the critical sector. Our administration’s agricultural development plan is focused extensively on harnessing the full potentials of the value chain as an integral part of fourth pillar of our development agenda which is making Lagos state a 21st century economy.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan posited that Management of the bank appreciated the imperatives of the extensive agricultural value chain, the position of the agricultural sector as a major contributor to the nation’s GDP, significance in generating FOREX earnings, employment and import substitution and its ability to eradicate hunger and poverty adding that the bank had a large base of SME and corporate agribusiness clients across Nigeria operating in all segments of the agricultural value chains, covering primary production, storage, processing, packaging and agro export.
“So, we can proudly say we are providing services across the value chain of the agricultural industry. In partnership with public sector institutions, First Bank has supported several state governments on Agricultural Development Trust Fund Scheme, an initiative designed to provide credit facilities to small scale farmers who would otherwise be constrained by the lack of collaterals.
“We are partnering with a good number of states on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Accelerated Development Agric Development Scheme (AADS). Notably, we have disbursed more than forty billion naira under the CBN’s Paddy Aggregation Scheme (PAS). Our teams of dedicated agricultural professionals specializing in various fields of agriculture are strategically located in our branches nationwide to identify and support agricultural enterprises covering the entire geographical regions of the country with a suite of sector and customer friendly agricultural financing solutions tailored towards the bank’s support to the sector”, he submitted.
Photo: From left – Representative of Keynote Speaker, Senior Manager, Export Development, Africa Export-Import Bank, Mr. Babajide Sodipo; Team Lead, Private Banking, First Bank Limited, Dr. Safiya Musa; Vice President, Nigeria Agric, Business Group, Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank Nigeria, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono, CEO, First Bank Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, ED, Goldforth Ltd, Mr. Uche Njoku and Team Lead Commercial Banking , First Bank, Mrs. Bneka Itabor, during the 2019 First Bank Agric Expo on Agriculture Value Chain Spotlighting Opportunities and Managing Risk in Lagos on Friday. Photo by Sunday Eshiet.
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