The Agriculture sector has continued to receive tremendous interest from the Nigerian government with much hope on the sector to diversify the economy.
This was also the case at the 6th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum for Private Sector Stakeholders held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stated that the forum which centered on Agriculture, Agribusiness, and the Agro-allied value chain is key to Nigeria’s journey to food security and to becoming a regional power of sorts in agriculture in general, and processed agricultural products in particular.
He stressed that because the Federal Government has been showing a very strong commitment towards agriculture, all the players in the sector, including smallholder farmers across the country, have shown tremendous enthusiasm in leveraging agriculture as a means of economic empowerment.
While the Presidency is setting up a committee to look at the issue of intervention funds in agriculture in Nigeria, Prof. Osinbajo charged stakeholders in agriculture to ensure a feedback mechanism is in place for issues that have been raised and are being worked on, so as to increase and sustain the growth in the sector.
Earlier, the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, spoke about how the private sector has proven over time to be a key driver of economic growth in the country. According to him, evidences show that when the private sector leads development initiatives and are encouraged with the right policies by government, things work better with effective and sustainable results.
He commended the government’s proaction in engaging the private sector and creating the right policy environment for private sector operation.
Beyond that, he added, even government-owned institutions are being deliberately designed and set up to function as private sector driven enterprises, using NIRSAL as an example, which was set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2013 (as a public liability company) against the backdrop of several failed government financing interventions in the Agriculture sector. NIRSAL is a private sector-led institution with the mandate to encourage and facilitate bank lending to agriculture.
With a mandate to identify risks and fix broken value chains that discourage financial inflows to agriculture from Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), NIRSAL has used its risk mitigating tools that are supported by strong systems, processes and methods to trigger a growing willingness amongst the banks to lend to the sector.