Experts share opportunities in the Nigerian agricultural sector
On 5 July, the United Nations Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) in Nigeria launched the maiden edition of an agribusiness Master class series, themed “The Business of Agriculture in Nigeria”. The series educates Nigerians on the immediate, mid-, and long-term opportunities for Agri-Entrepreneurship in Nigeria to help potential entrepreneurs and investors understand its broad dynamics and potential. An IITA scientist—Adebowale Akande, Head of Agribusiness for sub-Saharan Africa at IITA, was one of the panelists.
In his speech, Dr Bolaji Balogun, Chair of PSAG, said there are millions of people in Nigeria and they are predominantly youth. The nation focuses on delivering food security and converting valuable natural resources in agriculture into revenue and inclusive growth across rural and urban economies. “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,” he said.
Abimbola Okoya, Chair of Cluster Five and the Executive Director of British America Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, gave the opening remarks. She mentioned that the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) supports the program 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.
Dr Patrick Habamenshi, Country Director for the International Fund for African Development (IFAD), delivered the keynote address. He said agriculture would be nothing if the creation of enterprises and employment is not encouraged. Hence, 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, also the Executive Assistant to the Governor of Oyo State on Agribusiness, shared opportunities in agribusiness. He described 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.
Akande 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. He added 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.
In her message, Senior Special Adviser to the President on SDGs, Her Excellency Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, 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 organizations to explore the potential business opportunities in agriculture and inspire Nigerians to engage in agribusiness directly or indirectly.”
In her closing remarks, Ololade Johnson-Agiri, General Manager at British America Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, 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.