*No famine in 2017—Ogbeh
*FG working to end recession —Osinbajo

By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & Gabriel Ewepu

ABUJA — The African Development Bank, AfDB, is to invest $24 billion in agriculture and agribusiness on the continent in the next 10 years.

This came on a day the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, assured that there would be no famine in the country next year.

AfDB President and Nigeria’s immediate past Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, disclosed this, yesterday, at the on-going Africa Economic Conference in Abuja.

He said African governments, Development Finance Institutions and Multilateral Institutions should open windows of risk sharing in agricultural lending in order to make the sector more attractive for commercial banks to provide the much-needed lending, saying the current three per cent total credit to the sector was unacceptable.

He said:  “Risks sharing instruments will play a crucial role in this to let commercial banks lend to agriculture.

“Development Finance Institutions and Multilateral Institutions, like ourselves, should be setting up national risk sharing facilities in every country to leverage agricultural financing.

“That is why under its Feed Africa Strategy, the AfDB will invest $24 billion into agriculture and agribusiness over the next 10 years. Our goal is simple: support massive agro-industrial development all across Africa.

Akinwunmi Adesina, President, AfDB
Akinwunmi Adesina, President, AfDB

“To make this happen, there is need for well-directed public policies to intensify the agricultural sector, especially agribusiness and food manufacturing companies.

“When this happens, Africa will have turned the coin and take its rightful place as a global power in food and agriculture. Our task is to make that happen and I am glad we can.”

In the immediate, Dr. Adesina said that to focus on new agricultural technology the AfDB “will soon be launching an $800 million agricultural technology initiative called Technology for African Agricultural Transformation, with the goal of reaching over 40 million African farmers.”

 Need for improved value chain

The president added that the continent must improve the value chain of agriculture from the farm, storage, transport, processing and marketing, with a view to harnessing and maximizing the sector’s benefits to farmers and other players in the sector.

 Africa must turn agric to wealth

Africa must turn agriculture into wealth and move out of exporting basic raw materials. Times are changing, so are opportunities, he said..

Adesina said new opportunities in the textile and apparel industry had presented themselves to Africa especially with the rising wage issues in China, as well as, “security and political uncertainties in Turkey and Bangladesh.”

Rural infrastructure

Adesian noted that food and agricultural processing companies have little incentives to set up in rural areas because roads, rails, electricity, water drive up costs of investors.

“What is needed is the establishment of large staple crops processing zones, and agro-industrial zones enabled with power, water and roads.   This will drive down the cost of doing business, as well as, significantly reduce post-harvest losses, all across Africa.

FG working to end recession—Osinbajo

On his part, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said the Federal Government would pay more attention to crops value chain in several sub-sectors, especially, with tomato, and greater attention to the Anchor Borrowers which focuses on rice, wheat and several other crops.

He said faced with global crash in commodity prices and vandalism of oil facilities, the Federal Government was determined to diversify the economy with a resolve to take it out of recession.

 No famine in 2017 — Ogbeh

Also speaking, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, allayed fears of famine in the country, next year.

According to him, the current high food prices are due to the pressure on the Nigerian market, arising from having to supply food to other parts of Africa, especially North and Central Africa.

He said, however, that with the on-going harvest of several crops and irrigation farming, the nation would not run into food crisis, as feared in some quarters.

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