As Nigeria hopes to drive transition from subsistent to commercial agriculture, achieving this is not possible without the conscious efforts of all stakeholders in the sector. This is according to Mannir Dan-Ali, the chief executive officer (CEO) and editor-in-chief of Daily Trust Newspaper, speaking on Tuesday at the 3rd Daily Trust Agricultural Conference and Exhibition in Lagos.
Dan-Ali identified government at all levels, financial institutions, agro-allied industries, farmers as well as the numerous other corporate entities as crucial stakeholders that have one role or the other to play in the entire production and distribution process.
He stressed the need for a lot more action by both government and the financial institutions to stimulate increased funding interventions for the agricultural sector in the country in order to re-position the sector and enable it deliver the desired result.
“We have seen various intervention projects by government, even under the present administration, projects like the Anchor-Borrowers’ Scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are valuable. However, it is pretty obvious from our current situation that the government needs to do a lot more and urgently too in certain critical areas in the value chain.
“I believe that it is the desire of every critical stakeholder in this sector for government to influence the provision of a single digit interest rate for agricultural loans,” he said.
The conference, themed ‘Re-positioning Rice, Sugar and Dairy Production for Optimal Yield’, according to Dan-Ali, aims to address fundamental issues that relate to growth and development of the main artery of the nation’s economy, which is agriculture.
He further pointed out that the conference is coming at a time that a major continental policy, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which has the potential to help lift the Nigerian economy from its sluggishness, has just been endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria, he said, has the potential to not only feed itself but also export agricultural produce to its entire sub-regional neighbours, yet it imports huge quantity of its food requirement to sustain its massive population.