At the recent First Bank 2019 Agricultural Exhibition, with a theme: Agricultural value chain: spotlighting opportunities and managing risk, held in Lagos, Federal Government has promised to revamp Agricultural research institutes in order to support, improve and add value to agricultural sector in Nigeria.
The promise was made by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammed Sabo Nanono.
Nanono, in his address stated that more funds will be allocated to enhance adequate funding of agricultural research in Nigeria
He reiterated that the directive to the central bank to stop direct forex sales to importers of food is laudable because country had no reason importing food and seeds abroad.
According to the minister, he said “I have met with most of the research institutes under me, about 20-30 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 seeds from Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali. What a shame! We owe 60 percent of the GDP of West and central Africa, we can’t be ignored but we are ignored because we are not serious on the most important thing”
While appreciating FirstBank initiative in supporting Agricultural sector, Nanono urged commercial banks and other development financial institutions to design and deploy creative interventions packages that are capable of improving agriculture and agro-allied industries in Nigeria.
He added “ the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development under my watch is determined to build a formidable partnership with key relevant stakeholders to provide for agricultural sector and create an enabling environment for agro-industrialization”
The Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, in his welcome address noted that it is FirstBank’s 125th anniversary year and It is worthy of note that the bank commenced operations with a major strategic focus on financing agriculture development as well as enabling farmers and agrobusinesses. To this end, the bank is celebrating 125 years of supporting agriculture and agribusiness development in Nigeria.
Dr. Adesola stressed that the entire management of FirstBank deeply appreciate 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 and further stated that a large base of SME and corporate agribusiness clients across Nigeria operating in all segments of the agricultural value chain – 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, FirstBank 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 of dedicated agricultural professionals specialising 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 said
Meanwhile, Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu , represented by Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, commended First Bank group for initiating the programme as a platform to showcase the country’s potentials in agriculture.
He appealed that both Public and Private sectors must contribute to achieve food security in Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu later 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 Agricultural 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.”
The key note speaker, Prof Ben Oramah, who was represented by the Senior Manager, Export Development, Africa Export, Import Bank, Mr. Babajide Sodipo, called on government to ensure sustainability of its policies.
He also called on government to subsidise farmers instead of fuel to enable farmers continue to contribute significantly to the nation’s GDP.
Sodipo urged the stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to grow their knowledge in order to derisk the sector just as he encouraged the engagement of proper risk management mechanism that will take care of the losses.
In his goodwill message, the Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotomi Okeredolu who was represented by his special adviser on Agriculture, Pastor Akin Olotu, called on government to look into the community road network.
“Our government should make concerted efforts and deliberate policies to transform our urban road to provide access to link the communities with the cities,” he said.
He appealed to the Federal government for a window to be created through the CBN to address land clearing problem in the Southern part of the country.
According Olotu, he said “South-South part of the country challenge in the area of bush clearing. So much is required to clear bush in the south-south part of the county, making pretty difficult for agriculture development in that region”