May 15, 2016 - 8:10 AM EDT
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Why Agriculture Is the Way to Go

It was one of Nigeria's most articulate and innovative Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and presently, the President of African Development Bank (AFDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina; who made a proclamation that though was not new, resonated with majority of progressive Nigerians that have passion for the agricultural sector. In 2015, in Dakar, Senegal, he stated, "Agriculture is not a way of life, or a social sector. Agriculture is a business. A business that will help countries to diversify their economies, reduce their dependence on food import, create jobs and revive rural areas".

This is a direction Nigeria should be looking at, as a way out, as we battle with a number of unsettling and nagging economic challenges that confront us. This include among many others: dwindling external revenue due to decline in the price of crude oil, weakening of the naira against the dollar, a depleted foreign reserve, unavailability or dilapidated critical infrastructure, alarming increase in unemployment, and unbearable high rate of abject poverty.

With the above challenges, agriculture seems to be our most viable option as we seek to diversify the economy; which represents an escape route out of the ticking time bomb that might implode this nation. To buttress this fact, it is only appropriate to borrow the statement from a World Bank report, it posited and rightly so "that agriculture is up to four times more effective than other sectors in reducing poverty". I must add that it has more potential than any other sector to stimulate our economy and promote inclusive development through the creation and redistribution of wealth.

Agriculture as a business puts into consideration the value chain that makes engaging in the endeavour profitably viable. It starts with the farmer through to transportation of farm produce, availability of storage facilities, processing industries, and the market. The value in the chain can only be tapped when the right policies are formulated and implemented, business friendly regulations are put in place, transparency and accountability in the budget implementation process is ensured, critical integrated infrastructure are made available, huge private sector investments are attracted, increased funding among others.

The business opportunities in the agricultural sector are enormous. If the above listed steps are dutifully put in place; the country can create massive wealth, generate employment for our teeming youths, reduce poverty and become a net exporter of both raw agricultural outputs and other by-products. It is estimated that by 2030, the value of food and agribusiness would reach one trillion dollars. With the increasing high growth rate in the world's population the business opportunities in the agricultural sector would continue to be boundless.

When put side by side with the fact that Africa imports food worth $35 billion, aside the huge importation of other by-products from agriculture, the time is now to turn back the balance of trade in favour of Africa, with Nigeria taking the lead role through exploring the business opportunities that agriculture presents. Thankfully, Nigerians are beginning to see agriculture beyond a dirty endeavour characterized by crude labour-based activity with low return on time and effort.

Yusuf Ishaku Goje, Convener, CALPED

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:

Source: News (May 15, 2016 - 8:10 AM EDT)

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