Chairman, Board of Directors of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr Asue Ighodalo, has identified five core areas that should be articulated in the quest to transform the agricultural sector in Nigeria and on the African continent.
The chairman stated this in his welcome address at the virtual Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA) organised by the bank with the theme: ‘Fast Forward Agriculture: Exploiting the Next Revolution,’ which held online this week with synchronised broadcast studios from Lagos and Abuja.
According to him, to be able to effectively transform the agricultural sector, feed the continent’s growing population, boost her economies, create massive employment for millions of its young and not so young people, as well as absorb the shocks of the ongoing pandemic, the involvement of key stakeholders across public and private sectors in developing the right policies to aid the growth of the agribusiness value chain must increase.
Ighodalo urged the governments in sub-Saharan African economies to optimise the agricultural sector to attract sizeable investments that would help to drive expansion and achieve global competitiveness, as well as increase financing to key points of the value chain, particularly smallholder farmers, to modernise their practices and increase outputs.
He stressed the need to focus on the role and impact of technology and data science in stimulating innovation in the value chain and the need to understand the changing regional climate cycles, its impact on productivity, and identifying necessary adjustments to deliver growth despite these climate changes.
Also speaking, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, said that the government could only help to kick-start the revolution while it is the responsibility of private sector players to come together to make a success of it.
He said the government had emplaced the processes, finances, and researches to start the revolution in the agricultural sector and it is now about to commercialise it and make it possible for the individuals and businesses to benefit from it.
President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, remarked that agriculture remained his passion, adding that the vision of AfDB post-COVID-19 is how to build a better, stronger, and more resilient agricultural sector on the African continent.
Adesina, who was represented by Dr Martin Fregene, Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry of AFDB, said that Africa should not be in need of food, adding that 60 per cent of the estimated 200 million hectares of uncultivated land in the world resides in Africa.
He said: “Therefore, the African continent can be best described as the last frontier of agricultural development on the planet.”