Africa must begin to drive agriculture as a business, if the sector is to become competitive in the global economy, stakeholders have said.
The assessment was made at the maiden session of the ongoing West Africa Agribusiness Show 2020, themed “Accelerating food revolution in Africa”, currently holding at the Landmark Center, Victoria Island, Lagos State.
According to the stakeholders, there is need for Africa to fine-tune the dynamics of the agricultural value chains in order to boost export and generate revenue for the continent’s economy.
Director-General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Amb. Ayoola Olukanni emphasized that Africa must begin to grow its economic value chain through agriculture, adding that the private sector is vital a component to scaling up the sector.
He said, “The orientation of agriculture as subsistent farming is no longer what it is now. As far as the West African agribusiness initiative is concerned, we must think of how the private sector plays its own role in this area.
“The perspective of agriculture as a business is key to enhancing the sector. It is also important that we begin to lay emphasis on value addition, to spur youths into the venture”
Speaking on the role of the government in upheaving the economies of the sector, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono said the government has identified agriculture as the driver of Africa’s economy, adding that the West African agribusiness initiative will create opportunities for investment.
In his words, “As a government, our agenda is to guarantee the vibrancy of the sector which must be seen as a business and a safe haven for investment.
“We are committed to promoting partnerships to advance the present level of trade and investment as a veritable strategy for diversification.”
The minister, who was represented by Mrs Akeredolu Olayinka, also unveiled that the Federal Government will support the Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) project initiated by the African Development Bank (AfDB), and facilitate the review of the Land Act and land tenure system.
On his part, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbonlahon Lawal, hailed smallholder farmers as efficient producers and contributors to food security and economic growth.
“Investment in smallholder farmers should address each link of the agricultural value chain. These farmers need access to lands, finance and technology,” he said.
He further disclosed that the Lagos State Government is keen on bringing 15,000 youths into agriculture via capacity building, within the next 4 years.
The ongoing WAAS is an annual exhibition intended to provide a platform through which innovations in technology, equipment, procedures, and processes in the agribusiness sector can be developed.
The event, according to the Chief Convener, Mr. Idowu Asenuga, will attract new prospects in agribusiness and make West Africa an investment hub for the agricultural and allied sectors.