Chairman of United Nations Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) in Nigeria, Dr Bolaji Balogun, says the country under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari, has an incredible opportunity to convert agriculture into a source of foreign currency.
Speaking against the backdrop of the launch of PSAG’s maiden edition of an agribusiness Master class series, with the theme, The Business of Agriculture in Nigeria, Balogun said, “Nigeria has an incredible opportunity to convert agriculture into a source of foreign currency revenues for the economy. This makes it important for this event to be held.”
With the series, PSAG will be educating Nigerians on the immediate, mid-, and long-term opportunities for Agri-Entrepreneurship in the country to help potential entrepreneurs and investors understand its broad dynamics and potential.
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s (IITA) scientist, Adebowale Akande, who heads the Institute’s Agribusiness for sub-Saharan Africa was one of the panelists.
In his speech the PSAG chair however, said there are millions of people in Nigeria and they are predominantly youth. The country focuses on delivering food security and converting valuable natural resources in agriculture into revenue and inclusive growth across rural and urban economies.
Chairperson of Cluster Five and the Executive Director of British America Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, Abimbola Okoya, gave the opening remarks. She mentioned that the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) supports the programme to tap into profitable opportunities in agriculture, build wealth, and achieve financial freedom in all its forms to attain the SDGs in Nigeria.
Okoya further explained that the rationale behind the series is to create awareness and develop capability in agriculture. “The series aims to awaken a social consciousness on the opportunities that abound in the agricultural sector and evoke a renewed interest in the industry, accelerate access to resources that exist, and establish as well as strengthen young agripreneurs in the sector”, she said.
Country Director for the International Fund for African Development (IFAD), Dr Patrick Habamenshi, delivered the keynote address.
According to him, agriculture will be nothing if the creation of enterprises and employment is not encouraged, adding, ‘’this master class allows everyone to discuss the challenges and different value chains in agriculture and find their place in the sector.’’
He advised that everyone take the opportunity to learn and ask the right questions for future action as there will be discussions on the structures in place to support young people to succeed.
During the panel discussion, Akande who is also the Executive Assistant to the Governor of Oyo State on Agribusiness, shared opportunities in agribusiness, describing agriculture as a gold mine because of its eternal relevance to people’s well-being; hence, individuals can tap into various aspects such as production, value addition, and export.
He explained that specific skills must be learned, and knowledge gained for success in agriculture and agribusiness to be guaranteed.
“Programs like this should be put in place to help change the mindset of youth and educate them on the challenges and opportunities associated with agribusiness”, he said, adding that seeking knowledge from peers who have made it in the sector despite the challenges will also help youth make better decisions regarding their engagement in the sector.
Senior Special Adviser to the President Buhari on SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, in her message congratulated the leadership of PSAG for leading this effort and encouraging private sector participation in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development in Nigeria.
She was represented by her Senior Technical Assistant, Dr Bala Yunusa, who said, “I believe that this will provide insights on how to strengthen system-wide solutions beyond individual organisations to explore the potential business opportunities in agriculture and inspire Nigerians to engage in agribusiness directly or indirectly.”
In her closing remarks, General Manager at British America Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, Ololade Johnson-Agiri, who also moderated the session, highlighted some expert advice from the panelists, especially the need to analyze one’s strength, do a risk assessment, and study one’s environment to identify what is profitable before going into the business of agriculture.