Audu Ogbeh, The Minister for Agriculture and rural development, has described recent efforts to foster research in rich seed development, agriculture machinery and training of farmers as a demonstration of government’s commitment to revolutionising the agricultural sector.
The government recently sought a partnership with China in the area of seed research to enhance food production.
The minister, who spoke at the 2nd First Bank Agric Expo in Lagos said the efforts have led to improved exports and increased output from farmers.
Ogbeh said the government was impressed by the bank’s initiative on supporting agric businesses across the value chain to play their enabling role in the nation’s drive for economic diversification through agriculture.
“First bank has been a backbone to many farmers. We must protect the banks and those who lend money to farmers. We are very grateful to you for your continued commitment to Nigeria,” Ogbeh said.
Ogbeh, the special guest of honour, officially declared the expo open at the 2018 exhibition which sparked conversations around collaborations that promote sustainable businesses for Agropreneurs as well as avenues for expansion.
The FirstBank Agric Expo was launched in 2017 to facilitate national discourse on the economic benefits of sustainable agriculture and value chain development.
Okechukwu Enelemah, the minister for industry, trade and investment, in his address backed Ogbeh, saying that government was committed to creating the enabling environment for agribusiness to thrive.
Enelamah, noting that Public Private Partnership (PPP) was key to taking agri-business to the next level said urged the bank to carry on the promotion of agriculture through exhibition platforms.
According to Doyin Salami of the Lagos Business School (LBS) in keynote address on “Innovating for a Sustainable Green Economy’’, agriculture as a major contributor to foreign exchange earnings could be reformed by green economy which is characterised by renewable energy, low carbon emission, industrialisation, waste management and re-cycling.
Given the nation’s popu- lation, technology and big data were necessary for Nigeria to create more sustainable means of fixing local demand population.
He said the quality of agricultural production and yield left much to be desired as Nigeria has the lowest deployment of fertilizer.
“We must be able to decide and articulate the kind of technology to deploy,’’ Salami said.
Adesola Adeduntan, the managing director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited and Subsidiaries, speaking at the event stated that First Bank has over the years commit- ted to nation building by promoting agric business and the development of the economy in Nigeria.
“This second consecutive edition of the First Bank Agric Expo is indicative of our commitment to increasingly collaborate with public and private sector partners to fully restore the prime role of the agricultural sector as the mainstay of our national economy. Over 124 years ago, our Bank commenced operations with a major strategic focus on financing agriculture development as well as enabling farmers and agrobusinesses. I am pleased to note that agri- cultural financing across all value chains remains a core part of our business today,” he said.