Nigeria and other African Nations have been urged to make agriculture more productive in their fight to end the scourge of poverty in the continent.
Group Managing Director of Union Bank of Nigeria PLC, Emeka Emuwa gave this advice at the International Conference organized by the African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) sponsored by Union Bank of Nigeria PLC.
In his welcome address to the conference which was themed “propelling Economic Development through Functional Agricultural Value Chain financing models: lessons learnt and emerging opportunities, in Lagos, Emuwa advised the African Nations to redouble their efforts to make agriculture more productive.
While wishing the participants drawn from African member nations, he averred that the best way to improve the financial flow to the agricultural sector and rural Communities is through a deep and enhanced understanding of the components of the Value Chain.
In his words, “If you can get agriculture to become more productive, you will be better positioned to tackle the scourge of poverty in the continent. It is unfortunate that there has been a decline in the sector due to the emergence of other economic sectors in Africa”
Citing the example of Nigeria, Emuwa told the conference that the emergence of oil and gas sector that stunted the agricultural sector.
He said that Union Bank has been supporting agriculture over the years ;stressing that in the current financial year, Union Bank will be engaging directly with farmers in order to have a deep understand the entire segments of the business, so as to inject more funds than have been invested in the past.
“We will continue to invest in agriculture. In the past years, agriculture has played a significant part in our business but we want to look at the entire value chain more intently. We want to engage with the rural farmers directly and not just from policy level”, he emphasized.
Also speaking at the conference, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal who represented the Deputy Governor of the State Mrs. Adejoke Orelope – Adefulire quoted one professor as saying that it is only in agriculture that the battle for economic development will be lost and won.
He admitted that give the present 3% lending, Nigeria is not yet there. He said that the theme of the conference was apt, saying that though the Lagos State is not rearing cattle heads, the state is interested in what happens to processing of beef. Noting that about 6000 cows are slaughtered every day in lagos, Gbolahan urged financial institutions to finance the butchers to procure modern vehicles and upgrade their beef processing adding that the are stakeholders in the provision of beef. He said that the state government is focused on area where it has both competitive and comparative advantage like fishing, poultry, vegetable and rice farming.