Only a strong and efficient agricultural sector can lift millions of people out of poverty, earn foreign exchange, and diversify the economy away from reliance on oil, according to Kennedy Uzoka, Group managing director of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc.
He made this remark at the just concluded Oyo State Agric Business Summit where stakeholders unanimously agreed that there has to be concerted efforts by the government and the private sector to restore the country’s past glory.
“it’s only a strong and efficient agricultural sector that can feed the growing population of a country, provide employment, play vital role in the foreign trade and earning of foreign exchange and give a strong base to the industries,” said Uzoka.
According to the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2016, the sector in the 1960’s contributed 85% of the Nigeria foreign exchange earnings, 90% employment generation. Available data also confirms that at independence in 1960, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP was about 80%, which is typical for a developing agrarian nation.
However, Agriculture was relegated as soon as crude oil was discovered in commercial quantities in the late sixties.
Since his assuming office in 2015, the Muhammadu Buhari led administration has been working assiduously hard by formulating policies that will ensure that the sector contributes more to GDP and Nigeria attains self-sufficiency in food production.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says over three million farmers have benefited from the N791 billion disbursed under its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
The ABP was launched by Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities.
Uzoka commended the Oyo State Governor Engineer Oluseyi Abiodun for choosing Agribusiness as one of the key economic development areas of their Government in achieving their planned development.
“The bold step taken today will not be forgotten easily in the annals of the State. This should be sustained. I hereby assure you of United Bank for Africa Plc continuous support in all areas of developmental programmes of your administration,” said Uzoka.
The Oyo Agribusiness Summit is project-managed by Agro4you Limited in conjunction with the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), in line with Governor Seyi Makinde’s vision and road-map towards changing the agricultural landscape of the state to become the agribusiness hub of Sub-Saharan Africa.
The summit aimed at bringing together key actors in agribusiness space globally, showcase the potentials for agribusiness investments by the private sector in the state, offer prospective investors and stakeholders a platform to better understand the investment opportunities within the Oyo State Agribusiness and Identify areas for coordinated public-private investment in the value chain development in the State.