…NABG to invest N360b in agribusiness
President and chairman of the newly inaugurated Nigeria Agribusiness Group, NABG, Alhaji Sani Dangote, has affirmed that agriculture remains the largest employer of labour, adding that the private sector must put heads together with the government to develop the Nigerian economy.
Dangote stated this during the inauguration of NABG attended by farmer associations, input dealers, representatives of finance and insurance sectors, the supply value chain, poultry, fisheries, research and development.
He noted that though the journey to bring agriculture to the forefront would not be easy, he called for patience and unity so that the association can meet her objectives.
“There was nobody to interface with government at any level to represent the interests of the private sector, but now with the NABG, there will be a platform to discuss issues and challenges and be able to engage government on these issues.
Furthermore, the NABG said it would invest N360billion in the development of agribusiness across 22 states in Nigeria.
This was stated by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sonny Echono. He explained that the investment of such funds would undoubtedly help to create jobs for the teeming youths and help to lift millions of farmers out of poverty.
He noted that the engine of any economy was the private sector, adding that unfortunately, agriculture was treated as a development program for decades with dominance of government, in many cases crowding out the private sector.
He said: “We have ended the dominance of government and I am optimistic that the private sector will lead Nigeria in restoring its past glory in agriculture.”
Speaking further,Dangote said: “For many decades, the agricultural sector has faced many challenges and there are so many issues facing the sector, so we decided that the way forward is to have a unified body that can project the sector.”
He further informed that the group was not meant to replace other existing agriculture group, but to strengthen them and urged Nigerians who are into agriculture to be part of the group because of its huge benefit, adding that the group would only thrive with collective efforts of other groups.
Also speaking, the coordinator of the group, Chief Emmanuel Ijewere, stated that Nigeria needs to turn to agriculture to drive the economy, stating that the position of NABG should therefore, be seen as a patriotic one.
He recalled that less than two years ago, the former Nigerian president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan on advice of the then Eminent Persons Group agreed that members of the agriculture value chin should come under one group for adequate representation.
Ijewere added that 23 persons were chosen to ensure an all-embracing body was put together to become the voice of agriculture from a holistic point of view.
The permanent secretary further said, “I am confident that the group will continue to attract viable local and foreign direct investments into agriculture and agribusiness together with our development partners and other MDAs.
“In 2013, we commissioned a study survey of 75 leading agribusinesses in Nigeria, which showed that serious challenges were faced by agribusiness investors in Nigeria.
The results, including the following, by percentage of respondents were as follows: Infrastructure, 72%, financing, 56%, supply security, 55%, government regulations, tax and policies,53%.
Other constraints, according to Echono, included human capital, 45%, security, 39%, land, 24% and government coordination, 19%.
He assured that the federal government was working tirelessly to eliminate these constraints at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, adding that through the development of the Staple Crop Processing Zones, SCPZs, and Agribusiness Investment Regions, ABIR, the government was addressing the issue of infrastructure and security of supplies constraints.
“We are leveraging Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, CACS, and Nigerian Incentive Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, and Funds for Agricultural Financing in Nigeria, FAFIN, for financing;
“We are leveraging the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme, GESS, and Agribusiness Investment Regions, ABIR, to ensure security of supply of raw materials.
“The Nigerian Agribusiness Group can help in these areas, by articulating the position of private sector agribusinesses on matters relating to policies, legal and regulatory environments” he said.

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