Public-private sector collaboration will boost food production – Mrs Osinbajo

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Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo

Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo

The Wife of the Vice-President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, has called for more public-private sector collaboration in efforts to boost food production in the country.

Osinbajo made the call Wednesday in Abuja at the first Annual NACCIMA-NIRSAL Agribusiness and Policy Linkage Conference, which has “Implementing the Agriculture Component of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP)’’ as its theme.

The conference was organised by the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in collaboration with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).

Osinbajo stressed the need for increased collaboration between the organised private sector and the public sector, including the financial institutions, to boost food production.

“I have been reliably informed that Nigeria has made giant strides in agriculture, especially in rice which is one of our favourite foods in Nigeria.

“The president of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) said that Nigeria’s rice production has increased and he attributed the increase to the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

“The achievement recorded was as a result of the collective efforts of all the relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector and the hard work of our farmers,” she said.

Osinbajo, however, emphasised the need for a stronger desire among stakeholders to team up to answer the call of Nigerians “who are daily asking for means to feed themselves and get meaningful employment opportunities’’.

She urged conference to come up with pragmatic decisions that would benefit all Nigerians, adding that the outcome of the conference would partly determine the future of the younger generation of the citizens through agriculture.

She commended the decision of NACCIMA to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and financial institutions to fund agricultural businesses while employing unique skills and capacities of the information technology industry to drive information and accelerate the value chain.

Mrs Alaba Lawson, President, NACCIMA said the conference was as a result of the collective efforts of the organised private sector to promote an enabling environment for agriculture to strive.

She said there was an urgent need for the country to drive a structural economic transformation with emphasis on improving both public and private sector efficiency.

“We organised this conference which is aimed at maximising agricultural productivity by increasing public awareness of the potential of agriculture.

“This is also by generating new commercial agricultural technologies that meet local market needs while advocating improved data collection and evidence-based reporting and monitoring to evaluate the progress of the agriculture promotion policy.

“This conference provides an opportunity to attain sustainable economic growth by bringing together relevant stakeholders within the agricultural sector with the possibility of obtaining success,’’ she said.

Lawson said that the opportunities existing in the agricultural sector were vast, adding that Nigeria, with a population of 180 million people, had a very huge market for agricultural services.

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“Within its agricultural programme, the government is set to open a minimum of 100,000 hectares of irrigable land by 2020 and this will develop the youth for commercial farming and aquaculture,’’ she said.

Lawson called on the ministries, departments and agencies of government that were involved in the implementation of key activities in the economy to swiftly and efficiently implement the programme.

She said that this would provide an avenue through which the assessment of the programme by the private sector and other stakeholders could be carried out in order to achieve the desired goals.

The Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, said that ERGP was aimed at increasing annual agricultural growth from the 2011 to 2015 output of 4.1 percent to 8.3 percent by December 2020.

He said that this would represent an average growth rate of 6.9 percent across the three-year plan period.

“We are naturally endowed with land, water, climate and the market, at very competitive levels, but we lack the full capacity to actualise these opportunities.

“In order to leapfrog the development, as desired by the agricultural sector, fully identified actors have to be attracted into Nigeria,’’ he said.

He said that although Nigeria lacked the funds for infrastructure logistics, storage and processing, NIRSAL was established to share all the risks associated with funding across the value chain.

“At the heart of the functions of NIRSAL is its role in facilitating and increasing the flow of commercial revenue and investment in agriculture as well as fixing the broken value chains which are impediments to achieving increased financial investments.

“The objective is to raise commercial bank lending and other investments from three percent, as it is today, to about 10 percent by the year 2026,

“We want to see how we can mobilise up to six billion dollars annually into the Nigerian business sector,’’ he added.

He said that NIRSAL was in partnership with NACCIMA to promote strategic approaches in solving endemic challenges that appeared in the process of increasing agricultural financing.

Mr Pascal Dozie, the Chairman of Kunoch Ltd. and one of the conference ambassadors, said that agriculture and agribusiness spanned all sectors of the economy, adding that life was basically incomplete without agriculture.

He said it was important to glamorise agriculture and agribusiness because it would spur all spheres of development.

The two-day conference, which would end on Thursday, is aimed at creating a networking platform for private sector practitioners within the agricultural space to interact and come up with recommendations on how to implement the agriculture component of the ERGP.