The President, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Alhaji Sani Dangote, has said that encouraging small holder farmers through cooperatives and research institutions will enable the country sustain its agricultural growth.
Dangote stated this at the 6th edition of the 2017 AgrikExpo and NABG Conference in Abuja with theme `Harnessing Nigeria’s Agricultural Potential for Food Security, Youth Development, Nutrition and Wealth Creation’.
According to him “One way of ensuring sustainability if the development of the agric sector would be engaging the small holder farmers in cooperatives that would enable them improve agricultural production.
“Agriculture is no longer what it used to be. It is now a business activity that will give sustainable income,’’ he said
Dangote, explained that the aim of the AgrikExpo was to fashion out ways to get help stakeholders fashion out ways of involving youths in agriculture as well as tackle the myriad of problems in the sector as everything cannot be left to the government alone.
He said: “We want to use this opportunity to discuss the issues of agriculture and encourage our youths, women and fashion out better ways to move the sector forward to encourage better performance in the agriculture value chain,” he added.
Delivering his keynote address, the MD / CEO, Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending NIRSAL , Aliyu Abdulhameed lamented that agric has suffered neglect over the years but added that “There is a growing consensus from government, private sector and other critical stakeholders that now is the time to move beyond the talk about the potentials of agriculture to delivering practical results.
He noted that among the many factors responsible for the poor state of Agriculture in the country is inadequate access to finance.
“Due to multiple competing objectives, Government budgetary appropriation is not the sector’s needs and the banks are still not very comfortable lending to the sector for fear that they would lose their investment.
“Agricultural lending represents just 3.2 percent of total lending, significantly below what obtains in other developing countries e.g. 6 percent in Kenya and 18 percent in Brazil.
Losses and transaction costs are high, small holder farmers face difficulties getting loans and banks do not consider agriculture as a profitable sector to lend to”, he said.