The Nigerian agricultural producers and exporters have been advised to improve the quality, branding and packaging of their produce, in order to fully explore the huge marketing opportunities in the Middle East, especially the United Arab Emirates.
This and numerous issues were discussed on Wednesday at an agro stakeholders’ conference, Meet the Farmers Conference, held at the Intercontinental Hotel, in Lagos. The event was organised by Crenov8 Consulting and tagged “The Future of Agribusiness”.
Technology is now changing the face of agriculture, not only globally, but also in some sub-Sahara African countries. Nigerian farmers were, therefore, advised to embrace the use of technology for their farming and livestock activities, so as to maximise their agricultural produce.
Various stakeholders who spoke at the agro export business conference advocated for the need for Nigeria to immediately begin to nurture younger ones, especially youths (who make up 60% of the population) to take over agriculture in the country so as to revolutionise the sector through technology.
On his part, Mr Ayodeji Arikawe, Co-Founder, ThriveAgric, said the use of technology in agriculture could be from the area of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), methodology, process etc, adding that technology will reduce the number of people who work on the farm while methodology will maximise land by reducing the amount of land used for agriculture etc.
Agribusiness in Nigeria
A key note speaker at the event and Vice President of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Emmanuel Ijewere, enjoined Nigerian businessmen to invest heavily in the agricultural sector saying that agribusiness has more potentials than the much talked-about oil and gas business. He said,
“in the next few years, the next group of Nigerian billionaires will be from the agribusiness.”
He said the demography of Nigerian population is an asset which should be exploited, adding that the ratio of youth to the total population is very high and should be a huge market for agribusiness, since the almost 200 million Nigerians must feed daily. He also encouraged Nigerians to pick and click into any of the value chains of agribusiness.
“The almost 200 million Nigerians must eat daily, so we need to take agriculture serious now because our population will soon double by 2050.”
Maximising Agro produce
Mr Ijewere also advised Nigerians farmers to exploit the use of greenhouse for agriculture, in order to multiply their farm yields. He described greenhouse as the future of agriculture, especially in Africa.
According to him,
“Greenhouse is not farming, but science and technology. It protects produce and multiplies them.”
He emphasised that Kenya and many African countries have left Nigeria behind in the area of agriculture, adding that while Kenya has 1,078 greenhouses, Nigeria only have about 300 greenhouses, of which only 2 are operational.
In his own contribution, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, represented by a Director in the Ministry, emphasised that government see technology as a way of increasing and improving agricultural produce which necessitated government’s support for smart farming in Nigeria.
Promotion of Agric Exports
A N50 billion Export Promotion Fund has been launched for Nigerian exporters, in the bid to promote exports of made-in-Nigerian goods, according to Stella Okotete, who represented the Managing Director of the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), at the conference. She went on to add that several cocoa exporters have recently benefited from the fund. She also said Nigeria can even benefit from the trade war between the United States and China:
“US flying soya beans over Africa to export them to China is a shame to the continent. We have arable land for soya beans in Nigeria, but we don’t even have enough soya beans to process into soya oil. We should be exporting it in large quantity.”
The need for Partnership
She advocated the need for partnerships in the Nigerian agricultural sector, saying that most of the big companies operating in the agric space are not owned by one individual. She went on to encouraged agric exporters and farmers to form partnership and co-operative societies, in order to make it easier for them to access funds from NEXIM Bank.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), represented by Emmanuel Adesina, also urged farmers to form partnerships, to enable Nigeria sustain food security and increase export at the same time. He added that the foreign experts brought in by NIPC can only train local farmers on how to improve the quality of agric exports, only if they form co-operative societies.
FAAC Allocation Hinders Agric Development
However, speaking exclusively, the Vice President, NABG, Emmanuel Ijewere, blamed the monthly FAAC allocation as one of the reasons why many governors are not interested in the development of Agriculture. He advised the Federal Government to halt the monthly allocation to State Governments throughout the federation.
Crenova8 Consulting is a leading consulting and digital technology firm based in Dubai, but with offices in Lagos and Nairobi. The last Meet the Farmers Conference was held in Kigali, Rwanda last week while the next edition comes up in November.