Waheed Olagunju, Executive Director, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), Bank of Industry (BoI), has said if the per capita income of the country is to make meaning to the population, the nation must start with agriculture and continue to build on agriculture.
He added that Nigeria is more of an agrarian country than an oil-producing nation.
He stated this during a conference of the Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research and Development (NiWARD) with the theme ‘Diversity and Inclusiveness in Agricultural Transformation’ in Abeokuta. The BoI official stressed that Nigeria has a lot of natural resource endowments, solid minerals as well as oil and gas and for the nation to achieve inclusive growth and development.
Olagunju noted that NiWARD was being driven and propelled by women, adding that there could not have been an inclusive growth without the women.
He further stressed the need for the country to continue to strive to produce most of the equipment that the nation needs to add value to production, if the country wants to domesticate its production capacity.
Comparing Nigeria with other nations of the world, he said Nigeria had huge agricultural resources, as well as access to Atlantic Ocean, noting the fact that the country was not landlocked was something the citizens have been taken for granted.
He stated further that Nigeria was better placed by virtue of its geographical location in West Africa, noting that the citizens should harness the potential of the area.
On climatic conditions, the BoI boss said the nation has one of the best farming seasons, all year round, adding that the country also has marine resources across its length and breadth.
Olagunju noted that the nation has what it takes to sustain life, stating that with agriculture’s per unit investment, the multiplier effect was higher in the developmental impact than other sectors, because the value chain is wide, whether vertically or horizontally.
According to him, “If you are to invest a billion Naira in agriculture, almost everybody in the village or community will benefit because you need to clear the land, if you want to cultivate. To clear the land, people would be employed, jobs would be created and that is the beginning of inclusiveness. You have to cultivate, plant and nurture and afterwards, harvesting. While harvesting, jobs are created”.
Olagunju, however, stated that the country has not been able to add value to its natural resource endowment for ages, charging that: “We need to add value, we need to process, we have more than enough to feed our country and also export”.