Stakeholders that assembled at the just concluded FirstBank Agricultural Expo seminar, held in Lagos recently, argued that government must encourage industries to be involved in areas such as storage, researching, processing, and export of finished agricultural products.
The stakeholders in the agro-allied industry have stressed the need for government to adopt a holistic approach on how to support the entire value chain in agriculture production. Promoting agriculture through a holistic approach would stimulate activities on the entire value chain and boost sustainable wealth creation.
Furthermore, it would help reverse the huge amount of money Nigeria spent on food importation on a yearly basis and create more jobs for the people.
Specifically, the Vice President, Nigeria Agriculture Business Group, Emmanuel Ijewere, said the value chain is the major challenge for the farmers.
According to him, in every 130 per cent food production, 60 percent loss is incurred due to neglect of the storage aspect of food production.
He added that an all-inclusive approach would make agriculture more productive, efficient and competitive through improved food production for domestic food supply.
“We loose 2.8 million tonnes of tomatoes every year, when it is multiplied by N2,000 every year, it is billions of Naira lost to the farmers every year.
“To fix the value chain, we need to build the infrastructure, the warehouses must be made available, the farmer must get the right seedlings, and the commodities exchange must be effective.”
The Group Vice President of Dangote Group, Sanni Dangote, identified lack of research and funding as major threats to the growth of the sector.
“Funding all other logistics is a major problem. Government needs to have collective approach to total agric value chain.”
We must come together to fashion out a holistic approach on how to grow agriculture both the private sector and banks. The banks cannot claim to support agriculture with the rate of interest they provide.
“We should look at the mass small farmers and bring them into clusters and give them capacity, while researchers will work with them and engage them with skills. They are presently fragmented and this can not grow the sector.”
The Acting Managing Director of Bank of Industry (BoI), Waheed Olagunju, said Nigeria has huge agricultural potential.
However, he regretted that the country has so far failed to properly utilise these opportunities to derive the benefits.
According to him, to grow agriculture and the entire value chain, the problem of infrastructure deficit must be addressed.
“Prior to the war, Nigerian economy was built on agric but we derailed after oil. We lack infrastructure. There is a huge market for agric if we get our business module.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of corporate organisations and Financial institutions have been urged to seek greater collaboration among stakeholders to enable them explore innovative opportunities in turbulent environment.
The Co-founder of Sahara Group, Tonye Cole, while speaking at FirstBank CEO Forum, said CEOs must ensure sustainability in their businesses, noting that greater collaboration enhances resource efficiency and help resist business volatilities
Furthermore, he said an enhanced collaborative approach, would deepen stakeholder involvement in policy development and social networks as a resource of institutional capital through which new initiatives can be implemented rapidly.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Exploring Sustainability and Innovation Opportunities in Turbulent Environment, Cole explained that no business can ‘stand the taste of time’ if the business owner fails to make himself relevant in his line of business at all times.
“To ensure business sustainability, we must remain relevant at all times, especially in the eyes of the government so that they will know that if anything happens and they pull us out, it must affect the sector.
“We must move quickly to change in policies. It is difficult to speak out when thing are moving normal, but when there is struggle, that is when you can sit down and talk with people in government and they listen to you. Any public official want people that would provide solution to problems.