By Aminu Imam
The Federal Minister of Agriculture and rural development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, yesterday met with the Nigeria Agri-business Group Executive Leadership, a select group of CEOs from Nigeria’s top agribusiness and financing institutions, to lead the engagement of broader agri-business community through the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), in Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).
In partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), the NABG will catalyse sustainable growth of the country’s agricultural sector by continuing to treat agriculture as a business, not as government funded development project.
“Working in partnership with the private sector, we are driving new investments into the agriculture sector,” declared Nigeria’s Agriculture Minister, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina. “To continue this never-before-seen trend in diversifying away from the one-dimensional oil and gas economy of Nigeria and build on the investment inertia of the agricultural sector; we must engage the private sector to help drive and coordinate regulatory and policy reforms in the country”.
Initial discursion between the Minister of Agriculture and the agribusiness leaders took place last May when the industry committed to work with government to remove major constraints and barriers facing the agriculture and agribusiness industry in Nigeria. There is currently no such association in Nigeria currently that has such an inclusive group of members drawn from the agricultural value chain.
Reaction from the private sector to the establishment of a formal group to work with Federal Government to implement ATA was very positive.
In a private sector survey of 75 agri-business in 2013, the top four constraints facing agri-business investment in Nigeria included infrastructure, financing, supply security and government regulations, tax and policies.
Three of the top four constraints are already being addressed head-on by the FMARD through key initiatives on Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZ), to resolve infrastructure and supply security deficits, Funds for Agricultural Financing (FAFIN), and Nigerian Incentive Base Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), to resolve cheap financing and access to financing issues, and GES to improve supply security.
Also speaking, Chairman of Dansa Foods Division of Dangote group of Companies, Alhaji Sani Dangote said, “This group will drive inclusive market growth, representing the interests of farmers, aggregators, input providers, supply-chain management, food processing, marketing and consumers.
“We have this unique opportunity in 2014 to align on one channel of communication to build confidence in government policy reforms that cuts across several MDAs”, he stated.