By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Nigeria’s agricultural sector attracted $9 billion investments from local and foreign business groups in the last two years.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, disclosed this at a chat with media executives in Abuja, on the newly established Executive Leadership of Nigerian Agribusiness Group.
“We have received a total of over $4 billion in executed Letters of Intent (LOIs) for investments by 30 private sector agribusinesses. We have established relationships with over 150 agribusinesses in Nigeria.
“Local fertilizer manufacturing and blending capacity has significantly expanded, with $5 billion in new investments. To fix the storage segment for all value chains, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development attracted Blumberg, one of the largest manufacturers of warehouses in the world, to commit to using Nigeria as the regional hub for manufacturing warehouses in West Africa,” he said.
The minister explained that the President Goodluck Jonathan administration’s resolve to make agriculture a source of wealth for Nigerian farmers and all those involved in the industry, was total and would be pursued to a logical conclusion.
“We have been very clear from the beginning that agriculture will not be treated any longer as a development programme, but as a business. We will no longer manage poverty with agriculture. We will use agriculture to create the future millionaires and billionaires of Nigeria. We are determined to change the fortunes of our farmers, for the poverty we see today must give way to wealth all across our rural areas, as we make agriculture a business that helps to lift millions of farmers out of poverty.
“Farmers are the largest private sector in this country. Everything from the farm, to the storage, processing, to the value addition up to the market, must work to create market for our farmers”, he said.
Dr Adesina added that the establishment of the Agribusiness Group was a demonstration of the Federal Government’s drive not only to turn around agriculture into a business, but also build institutions to sustain the significant gains being achieved in the agricultural sector under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Our approach was deliberate: grow the agriculture sector using private sector to drive the growth, focus on value chains for all commodities, and connect farms to mills, aggregators, storage, improved logistics, processors and value addition.
The minister said curbing the corrupt system of rent-seeking, especially in the purchase and distribution of fertilizer in the ministry was a blow to the old order and that everything must be done to sustain the new order.
“The old corrupt system of direct government procurement and distribution of fertilizers was scrapped. Private sector seed and fertilizer companies now sell farm inputs directly to farmers, instead of to the government,” he said.