The President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Chief (Mrs.) Nike Akande, has charged stakeholders Read More in the West African agricultural sector, particularly the national authorities, to show more commitment to the organisation of the sector’s value chains in order to meet the sub-region’s much needed quality products, export opportunities and food security.
Giving the charge in her remarks during the Opening Ceremony of the 2-day Agra Innovate West Africa Conference Thursday in Lagos, Akande, who is also the Chairman NEPAD Business Group Nigeria (NBNG), pointed out the perennial challenges of food insecurity and post harvest losses in the sub-region remained one of the banes of socio-economic development in most member countries.
The former Minister of Commerce and Industry specifically recounted the bitter experiences of subsistence farmers and agri-business investors in most countries within the region, adding that there is an urgent need to frontally tackle the myriad of obstacles to the sub-regional countries’ competitiveness in the global agri-business market.
She explained: “With less delay in transit, losses due to transportation risks are reduced. Food is saved from wastes, prices are less volatile, quality suffers less and export capacity can be improved. Another aspect of agriculture that is worth our attention is the livestock sector. So much in livestock is being glossed over. The nomadic cattle rearers that cause so much havoc to crops and human lives could be settled and given the right support to make them and their animals live decently and be more productive.
“The recent call for ranching is therefore both timely and apt. Organising the farmers into paddocks and ranches, with the right veterinary support, adequate and appropriate nutrition will lead to higher productivity, healthier animals and greater income. The old culture of roaming can neither unlock the potential in cattle production and marketing, nor increase income in any significant way. Modern approaches to cattle rearing will create more value added products such as milk, beef and leather all of which can either be used locally or exported”, Akande added.
According to her, with over 100 million highly educated youth population in the sub-region, there is a growing asset in human capital that should be properly harnessed by the governments and other agencies in the various countries to meet the food demand and other socio-economic needs of the sub-region,
Akande pointed out further that the sub-region can achieve the goals of food security, organised value chains and vibrant agro-commodities export if we harness the various supports and interventions that remove bottlenecks or bear negatively on qualities.
“With the great environmental and climatic endowment, vibrant populace, growing consumer markets and increase in the size of the urban middle class, West Africa can turn the tide and become an agricultural hub, trading within and with other parts of the world. This can, in turn, grow the sub-region’s economy in many different ways”, she projected.
She commended the organisers of the Agra Innovative West Africa event, particularly the Programme Director and founder/Chief Executive Officer, Contact Consulting Nigeria, Mrs. Folusho Olaniyan, and other partners, for the quality of the exhibition and large turnout of foreign and indigenous participating companies at the conference.
In her welcome remarks, Olaniyan explained that the conference was a demonstration of the organisers’ Corporate Social Responsibility “initiative of offering free training sessions to not just farmers but to all agricultural stakeholders who desire to participate in the revitalisation and optimization of West Africa’s agricultural sector potentials, especially Nigeria, the giant of Africa”.