• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Obasanjo advocates single-digit loan for farmers

As Nigeria strives to enhance market access and build resilient food systems, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the federal government to prioritise food security by offering single-digit interest loans to farmers.

“Any country that offers more than a single-digit loan to people in agribusiness is not helping farmers. We must recognize food as a national security need and provide the necessary financial support to farmers,” Obasanjo said during the recent Agriconnect Summit 2024, held in Lagos.

Obasanjo, who chaired the summit themed, ‘Bridging the Divide: Cultivating Collaboration and Innovation for a Sustainable Agricultural Future’, said that when strategically harnessed, innovation and collaboration can tackle challenges confronting Nigerian agribusiness.

“Innovation is very important. Land is important. But, without money your land is useless. You cannot do agribusiness without money and innovation,” said Obasanjo.

Ayoola Oduntan, the group managing director, Amo Farm Sieberer Hatchery Limited, emphasized the critical need for policy consistency to enhance market access and build resilient food systems in Nigeria. According to him, Amo Farm remains committed to driving positive change and fostering collaboration within the agricultural ecosystem.

During a panel discussion titled ‘From Farm to Table: Enhancing Market Access and Building Resilient Food Systems,’ Oduntan addressed the challenge of inconsistent government policies hindering the advancement of agribusiness in Nigeria.

“We have all the right ideas to take agribusiness to where it should be but a major challenge has been the implementation of policies. In my over 30 years of experience in the agricultural sector, I have witnessed numerous policy shifts with each new minister of Agriculture. This inconsistency hampers the progress of our agribusiness,” Oduntan said.

He underscored the need for concerted efforts to address the challenges facing the agricultural industry and to unlock its full potential. He also stressed the need for a central coordinating agency to provide direction, allocate resources, and ensure the sustained implementation of agricultural policies.

Another panelist, Meka Nwabuko, MD, Prime Agro Seeds Limited, stressed the need for collaboration and technology in transforming agribusiness in Nigeria. “Small holder farmers are at the heart of food cultivation and production and remain the dominant producers across the country.”

According to Nwabuko, small holders’ farmers are faced with numerous challenges to produce profitably. He said further that the challenges are more structurally and sustainably solved when farmers are grouped together in clusters and/or cooperatives.

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