Path To Economic Growth, By Ooni, Others

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How can Nigeria remain competitive in food production? It is by improving supply, say experts.

They spoke at the second Mike Omotosho Annual Lecture in Abuja. The event had as theme: “Increased agricultural productivity for sustainable economic growth”.

They unfolded an agenda for strengthening public and market institutions to achieve the goals for the nation ’s agricultural system.

Delivering a keynote address at the event, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, called on Nigerians to return to agriculture, saying it is the only sustainable business capable of ending the recession in the country.

According to the monarch, “you don’t need dollars to plant crops. Our land is fertile and you don’t even need to apply fertiliser in some places, so let us go back to the farm”.

He said: “God has endowed Nigeria with the best weather in the world and the country’s agricultural products – cocoa, banana, plantain, vegetables, snails etc. are the best.” He added that there were many areas to invest in agriculture.

According to Oba Ogunwusi, agriculture provides the largest employment platform, adding that thousands of youths have been brought back to farms and there is peace in his kingdom.

He urged Nigerians to promote the country’s products, stop blaming the government and do something to help themselves and the nation.

All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) President, Kabir Ibrahim, who noted that agriculture policies worked more in rhetorics than reality, said for the sector to perform effectively, 10 per cent budgetary allocation as stipulated by the Maputo Declaration, should be adhered to.

He said an enabling environment for production and value addition should be created for actors in the entire value chain to increase production and reduce wastage of farm produce.

He urged the government to deploy effective combination of better incentives and streamlined services to stimulate greater agricultural growth, create and maintain enabling environment for agribusiness and make the modernisation of the agro-food system smoother.

Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG)Vice-President, Emmanuel Ijewere, urged stakeholders to carry out research on post-harvest losses.

He called on the government to provide quality seeds, fertiliser and other farm inputs to boost agricultural production.

Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) Registrar, Prof. Eustace Iyayi, said research, proper policy co-ordination, sincerity and youth empowerment were strong ingredients for boosting agriculture production in the country.

For him, attracting youths to the sector by transforming it into a business and offering them new avenues and opportunities to engage the agriculture value chain should be the focus of the government.

He stressed the need to tackle problems associated with production through research.

Fresh Direct Produce and Agro-Allied Services Chief Executive, Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja, said inclusive and demand-driven innovation were tools that would help farmers in production and marketing of their produce.

According to her, empowering youths to get involved in agro-ventures offers lots of scope for entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.

Experts from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bank of Industry (BoI), Dr. Olasupo Musa and Mr. Cyril Anyanwu, agreed that agriculture needed proper financing, adding that their banks were doing a lot to boost funding for farming and food processing.

Earlier, Mike Omotosho Foundation founder, Dr. Mike Omotosho, said there was urgent need for increased agricultural productivity for local consumption and export.

Co-Chair of the occasion, Prof. Jacob Olupona, said the neglect of agriculture drove the nation to recession, calling for agricultural revolution and farmers’ empowerment.