The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) says collaboration by South-West states, with a renewed focus at unveiling viable and sustainable investment opportunities in the agribusiness value chain, is critical to national economic diversification and self-reliance.
The LCCI President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, stated this on Saturday at a webinar, organised to unveil viable agribusiness opportunities in the South-West zone of the country.
The webinar had as its theme: “Exploring Agribusiness Opportunities in Southwest Nigeria.”
Mabogunje said that this had become imperative, following the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic on both the national and global economies.
According to her, the pandemic has brought to fore the need for a reawakening of the critical importance of economic diversification, self-reliance and backward integration.
She recalled that revenue from agriculture used to be the mainstay of the region before the oil boom of the 1970s, adding that the same thing also applied to many other parts of the country.
Mabogunje said: “Major projects like the Cocoa House were funded from revenue from agriculture.
“Regrettably, the advent of oil changed the story and has led to the relegation of agriculture in the scheme of things.
“As a country, we have competitive and comparative advantage in agriculture and agribusiness.
“This is a sector that can readily be the anchor and key driver of our economic transformation but we need the right policies, infrastructure and institutions to make this happen.
“The renewed focus on the development of the non-oil economy by the Federal Government has led to implementation of policies geared towards encouraging farmers and investors in the agribusiness value chain.
“But the sector is still grappling with numerous productivity challenges, as we have yet to harness the enormous opportunities in the agricultural space.”
According to her, Africa is the new investment frontier and Nigeria, the key to opening the continent.
“Nigeria, Africa’s largest country by market size, is gradually getting the attention of international investors, who are keen on maximising profits from the country’s vast natural resources.
“Some of these resources are fertile land and export crops, including sesame seeds, cashew nuts, cocoa beans, ground nut, rubber, timber, yam and sorghum, among others,” she said.
Also, Mr Africanfarmer Mogaji, Chairman, LCCI Agricultural and Allied Group, said that the current pandemic had presented an opportunity and neutral ground for the nation to influence the global agricultural space through regional and geographical collaborations.
According to him, agribusiness is more than food production, as it affects security, job creation and shaping of culture, economic development, national security and sustainability.
“Irrespective of tribe, race or religion, what is relevant is that one just must eat.
“Contrary to popular opinion, this event is not about regional food production.
“It is, however, meant to trigger national conversation on finding practical solutions while major stakeholders, government and private sector find mutual areas of collaboration.
“It is about sustaining the future of this country and also promoting regional strength in collaborating with one other and encouraging the six geopolitical zones to work together.
“About 40 or 50 years ago, the northern belt was supplying groundnut to other parts of the country and the world.
“The eastern belt was providing palm oil for the industries, both in the country and in Europe, while the southwest was providing cocoa and kolanut to the northern belt and the rest of the world.
“If we trade together, we will prosper together, and five years from now, with what is happening today, we would have performed an economic miracle, if we work together,” he said. (NAN)