The Lagos State Government and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have charged farmers and all stakeholders in the agricultural sector on the need to explore the numerous opportunities that abound in agribusiness.
This was the crux of a webinar organised by the LCCI today, with the theme: “Exploring Agribusiness Opportunities in Southwest Nigeria”. Organisers said the virtual event was aimed at reawakening the minds of government at all levels, particularly the southwest of Nigeria, to agribusiness.
In her welcome remarks, the President of the LCCI, Toki Mabogunje, harp on the need to reposition agriculture as a mainstay that it was before the oil boom, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic which has badly affected the economy.
‘I am pleased to welcome our very distinguished panellists and participants to this very important and valuable webinar aimed at unveiling viable agribusiness opportunities in the south-western region of the federation. Revenue from agriculture used to be the mainstay of the south-west region before the oil boom of the seventies. The same is true of many other parts of the country. Major projects like the cocoa house were funded from revenue from agriculture. Regrettably, the advent of oil changed the story and led to the relegation of agriculture in the scheme of things.
‘This webinar comes at a time when there is a renewed focus on economic diversification and self-reliance. If the COVID-19 has taught us any lesson, it is the reawakening about the critical importance of economic diversification, self-reliance, and backward integration. As a country, we have a competitive and comparative advantage in agriculture and agribusiness. This is a sector that can readily be the anchor and key driver of our economic transformation. But we need the right policies, infrastructure and institutions to make this happen.
‘The renewed focus on the development of the non-oil economy by the Federal Government has led to the implementation of policies geared towards encouraging farmers and investors in the agribusiness value chain. But the sector is still grappling with numerous productivity challenges.
‘We are yet to harness the enormous opportunities in the agricultural space. Africa is the new investment frontier and Nigeria is key to opening the continent. Nigeria, Africa’s largest country by market size is gradually getting the attention of international investors keen to maximize profits from the country’s vast natural resources such as fertile land and export crops including sesame seeds, cashew nuts, cocoa beans, groundnut, rubber, timber, yam and sorghum among others,’ said Mabogunje.
According to the Chairman, LCCI Agric Group, African Farmer Mogaji, ‘Agribusiness is more than food production. It affects security, job creation and it shapes our culture, economic development, national security and sustainability.
‘Contrary to popular opinion, this event is not about regional food production. It is, however, to trigger a national conversation of finding practical solutions where major stakeholders government and private sector can find mutual areas of collaboration.
‘It is about sustaining the future of this country and also to promote regional strength in collaborating with each other. Also, to encourage the six geopolitical regions to work together.
‘COVID-19 is presenting an opportunity for us to look inwards and once again share. Covid-19 has presented a neutral ground for Nigeria to influence the global agric space, but this can only be achieved if we work together.’
While outlining the achievements of the Lagos State Government in agriculture, through Public-Private Partnership, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Gbolahan Lawal, said the opportunity in the sector is enormous; the mitigating challenges notwithstanding.
His words: ‘Lagos has a comparative advantage for fish production with 22 per cent water coverage. The state has over 300,000 fish farmers producing with little or no value addition.
‘Value addition is limited to cleaning, and the export of primary products are very low. The state has a need to attract new and modern investors by creating an enabling environment for the sector to grow.’