The Nigerian Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri has stated that the ministry in collaboration with African Development Bank (ADB), would promote and develop Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZS) in the country.
He said this move will enable both local and foreign partners to advance the level of trade and investments in the agricultural sector as a veritable strategy to diversify the economy.
The Minister made this known during the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit with the theme ‘’ Unlocking productivity and investment opportunities across Nigeria’s agribusiness value chain’’, held in Lagos.
Shehuri noted that there was need for a viable synergy and collaboration of all the relevant stakeholders including the financial sector as well as Governments at various levels and the Development partners.
He further said ‘’within the overall set of policy principles, the Federal Government is concentrating on providing an enabling environment and a level playground for stakeholders at all levels to enhance investment and capital flow into the Agric sector’’.
The Minister informed that ‘’this Summit also marks another milestone and traction in the journey of economic diversification in line with the vision of the Economic Recovering and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the present Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari”.
According to him, ‘’to boost agricultural production, food security, promote innovative technologies and investment in the agricultural sector in order to achieve poverty reduction and job creation, especially for our aspiring youths’’.
He emphasized that Nigeria’s potentials and prospects make the agricultural sector a pivot for economic stabilization, diversification and growth in the country, adding that the sector is a major contributor to the National Gross Domestic Product contribution (GDP) of about 27 per cent and the biggest in job creation in the non-oil sectors.
Shehuri pointed out that ‘’it is gladdening that this forum has brought together smallholder farmers, input dealers, agro-processors, development finance agencies, policy makers and the captains of industry under one roof to discuss the problems and challenges facing the Agricultural sector with a view to finding solutions and way forward’’.
He reiterated that ‘’the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, is presently providing vivid commitment to creatING jobs through the on-going review of agricultural policy, focusing on technology and innovation for agricultural mechanization, strengthening research and development, training and funding of extension services, in addition to livestock and diary development’’.
The Minister stressed that ‘’with the noticeable growth in production in the agricultural sector of the economy, a major emphasis has been on stimulating agricultural export to increase our foreign exchange earnings. In doing this, we are giving attention to meeting the standard of the requirements of not only the local but also international markets’’.
He also said that ‘’ the agricultural sector is geared more farmers by providing the required raw-materials for the development of the Agro-Allied Industries in the country’’.
In his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinmuntan said “our immediate focus is to invest N70 Billion in Agriculture financing within the next three years. With an initial take off tranche of N15 billion dedication funding in association with credible financing partners and instruments”.
Mr Akinmuntan pointed out that Agriculture is pivotal to the success and development of any nation,” we are therefore committed to working with our notable partners to open up the vast opportunities that abound in the agriculture sector “.
He stated that “we will leverage on the successful templates generated in the commodities and agribusiness sectors in the economies that we have supported across the continent, so we can replicate same in Nigeria”.
He noted,”we are working primarily to create value for all players in the agribusiness value chain, therefore, innovative tools, techniques and methodologies are being created and strategic partnerships are being established to ease agricultural development “.
In his presentation, the Managing Director, Nigeria Incentive Based Risk System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, said that investors are in agribusiness primarily to make profit ,adding that current local and global trend is to invest in the Agric sector.
He emphasised that “however, to maximize its potential, the Nigeria Agriculture sector requires business in areas like finance capital,technology capital among others.
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