The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Wednesday said that access to finance was one of the most critical factor to the growth of the agriculture sector Nigeria.
Fayemi said this at the opening of the two-day Agra Innovate West Africa Exhibition and Conference at the Landmark Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
“Of all the factors necessary for agricultural development such as enabling policies, arable land resources, availability of labour etc., access to finance is one of the most critical factor.
“The lack of finance or access to it, has remained one of the key factors accounting for the sub-optimal performance of the agriculture sector over the years.
“Without making adequate funding available to primary producers, smallholder farmers, small and medium size business and large scale processors, the agriculture sector cannot grow,” Fayemi said.
The governor, however, commended Federal Government’s efforts at closing the funding gaps in the agriculture sector.
“The federal government has identified funding gaps in the agriculture sector and has come up with various incentives aimed at revamping the sector as the real engine of growth and development.
“At the state level, the reality is that no state in Nigeria has the capacity to finance modern agribusiness models from regular budgetary provision.
“Hence there is a need to be creative and work with other stakeholders to address the issue of access to funding,” he said.
Also speaking, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Sarah Alade, said that improvement of Nigeria’s value chain would help boost the agriculture sub-sector.
“The Agriculture sector has continued to play an important role in the Nigerian economy in terms of employment and productivity.
“The consequence of the neglect of the sector will reflect in the continuous reduced share of the agriculture sector in the GDP of the nation.
“Production is just one of the processes in the agriculture value chain. Others are processing, packaging, storage, transport and distribution,” she said.
Mr Michel Deelen of Embassy of the Netherlands in Nigeria, said his country and Nigeria were in partnership in the agriculture sector.
“The collaboration is for exchange of know-how and good quality inputs between both countries,” the Dutch envoy said.
The founder of Agra Innovate West Africa, Mrs Folusho Olaniyan, said the exhibition was aimed at boosting agribusiness in Nigeria and West Africa at large.
“We are offering free training sessions not just to farmers but to all agricultural stakeholders who desire to participate in the revitalization and optimization of West Africa’s agricultural sector potentials,” she said.
It was reported that Agra Innovate West Africa is a regional agriculture production, processing and manufacturing trade show with over 50 exhibitors.
Organised in collaboration with KNECT365, the two-day annual expo in its fifth year featured over 30 agribusiness seminars.
The theme of this year’s fair is: “Food Security: The role of Finance in the Creation of Commercial Opportunities for Agricultural Value Chain Operations.