By Babajide Komolafe

The 19th edition of the Nigeria Economic summit (NES 19) will open up the agricultural sector for increased foreign and domestic investment. Minister for National Planning/Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission (NPC), Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman stated this at a press conference to announce the summit.

The NES 19 is scheduled to hold next week in Abuja, and the theme is “Growing Agriculture as a Business to Diversify Nigeria’s Economy.

“This year’s Summit is unique, for two reasons. First, this year marks the 20th year anniversary of the annual Nigerian Economic Summit. Secondly, it is the first time that the Summit is focused on a single sector of the economy, Agriculture, not only for the critical importance of the sector, but also because of its pride of place in the Government’s Transformation Agenda and Nigeria’s longer-term Vision 20:2020,” the Minister said.

Speaking further, he said, “As you are aware, Nigeria’s Agricultural sector is undergoing massive transformation with the focus on growing agriculture as a business. For the first time, an Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) has been developed and is being vigorously implemented by the Government. The Agricultural sector is also to play a critical role in the realisation of the objectives of the Transformation Agenda.

The Summit would present the opportunity for major domestic and global leaders to discuss the ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, with focus on improvement in infrastructure, agro-processing zones, financing and an enabling policy environment which are central to the full exploitation of the agricultural value chain, the attainment of food security and employment generation and wealth creation.

“The theme of this year’s Summit is clearly a call to action by all, if we are to successfully diversify Nigeria’s economy for enhanced growth and development. It has been established that the agricultural sector has the largest potential to diversify the economy, create jobs, secure food supply, lower inflation and expand foreign exchange earnings for the country. The sector contributed an average of 40 percent to the GDP between 2011 and 2012.

“The sector, which currently employs about two third of the entire labour force, has sustained its position as the highest contributor to non-oil GDP, contributing 47.17 per cent in 2011 and with an average GDP growth rate of 7.0 per cent in 2011 and 2012 and 6.56 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, the prospects for Nigeria are huge, remains committed to growing agriculture as a business to diversify Nigeria’s economy, through the sustained implementation of the agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).”

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