Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have called for collaborative efforts with the view to promoting food security and nutrition in Nigeria via agribusiness.
They made the call on Wednesday in Lagos at the Agribusiness Food Security and Nutrition summit organised by the publishers of a media outfit, MSMEs Today.
The event was organised to deliberate on issues that are aimed at tackling the menace of food insecurity in the country.
The summit’s theme was: “Meeting the Food Security and Nutrition Needs of the Nation through Sustainable Agriculture,” and was attended by policy makers, agriculture experts, farmers associations and the private sector.
Mr Amadi Ihekwumere, the event’s convener, said it was a clarion call to put the issues of agribusiness and food security on the front burner.
He said: “We feel that as a publication we have an obligation to play our own part in terms of how we support what the government, the private sector, and MSMEs are doing on the agriculture front.
“The agric. sector is supposed to be a sector that should be ranking as high as the oil and gas sector in Nigeria in terms of supporting the economy.
“The sector is pivotal in providing jobs and creating employment, and also being able to attract investment and attract foreign exchange by the export of agro-produce.
“And we feel obligated to create a platform like this, where we will bring stakeholders in government, both policymakers, business leaders, practitioners, and stakeholders who are engaged in diverse value chain aspects of agriculture.
“This is to discuss the issues that are very critical to either the growth or the downward trend of the sector and how to tackle them.
“Therefore, we are here to consider what concerted actions, policies, synergies, and collaborations that we require to bring on board in order that we will be able to actualise our nation’s Food and Nutritional Security Plan in the agric. sector,” Amadi said.
The Director General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) Mr Wale Fasoya, said the agency was ready to support all MSMEs in the sector.
Fasoya, represented by the Director, Partnership and Coordination, Dr Friday Okpara, said, “As a government agency, we are extending our hands of fellowship, to all the associations that are here, and all the private sector bodies also.
“As an agency, we support farmers as cooperatives and not individually to bring out their best in food security and productivity.
“SMEDAN understands the importance of agriculture, hence the formation of a full fledged department of agribusiness development and extension services to boost the sector’s productivity.
“So, we appeal to all farmers association to come to SMEDAN for all necessary help and collaboration they may need,” Fasoya said.
Mr Mohammed Adama of accounting firm, KPMG, represented by Mr Akintoye Alawode, saidin his keynote address that the agric.sector had a lot of untapped potentials.
“There has been a lot of talking about agriculture, but we just never seem to be able to realise the potential. So we need look at it with the statistics around Nigeria’s agricultural landscape.
“We need to refresh our memories on how much potentials we are sitting on in the agric sector. And let us also look at some of the challenges that are preventing us from realising these huge potentials.
“There is no doubt in which direction we should go. Agriculture has to be in the forefront and it is not just emphasising the fact that it has to be in the forefront but there is a lot of urgency to it now.
“We must do something now to ensure food security in the country,” Alawode said.
Dr Ezra YakusaK, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), represented by Mr Samuel Oyeyipo, said NEPC was ready to support the export ambitions of farmers.
“Permit me to inform this gathering that the NEPC has concluded the implementation of Export Expansion Facility Programme (EFP) of the federal government of Nigeria to bring export related businesses back to their feet.
“We also want you to know that the Exporters Expansion Ground (EEG) has been redesigned to serve Nigerian exporters better.
“These steps were taken to create market access for many Nigerian products.
“The council wishes to identify with the vision of this programme and assure it continues to partner with any agency or private sector.
This is especially on issues related to the development and production of agro-exports from Nigeria to all countries of the world,” Yakusak said.