By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Nigeria Agribusiness Group, NABG, Monday, urged the National Agricultural Land Development Authority, NALDA, on partnering with the private sector to sustain an integrated farm estates programme.
The call was made by the Vice President, NABG, Emmanuel Ijewere, while speaking with Vanguard on the potential of the private sector in sustaining integrated farm estates initiated by the Buhari-led administration basically designed for youths by the Ikonne-led NALDA to galvanise agribusiness across various value chains.
Ijewere who described the initiative by NALDA as a good idea expressed concern over sustainability modalities for the programme, which he said the government should consider bringing in private sector to run the integrated farm estates on the premise of profit-making that would strengthen and sustain them even if this administration leaves power.
The NABG is an organized private sector platform working together to grow Nigeria’s agricultural economy, creating jobs and lifting millions out of poverty, with investments cutting across the entire value chain from input to output markets, export markets, equipment and consumer foods manufacturing.
It also engages government at all levels in setting policy directions and regulatory reforms to enable sustainable inclusive socio-economic growth, which it helps to ensure food security and nutrition, creating systemic linkages between small, medium and large agribusiness enterprises.
It works with stakeholders in agriculture to diversify the economy away from oil and gas towards agricultural industrialization, and recognizes its role as the engine of economic growth with government creating the enabling environment for agribusinesses to thrive.
It recognizes farmers as the largest private sector group in Nigeria, hence promotes the principles of inclusive growth and sustainability through gender sensitivity engagements and creating employment opportunities for our youths in a structured manner.
He said: “We work with government at all levels and with Development Partners to drive sustainable growth in Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
“Integrated Farm Estates constructed by the Federal Government through the National Agricultural Lands Authority, NALDA, is a good idea, but let us do something deliberately to encourage our youths, however, it should be done in a programmed manner, and economic point of view.
“It must be a programme that is transparent to us, and all those involved should tell Nigerians this is what we are doing, this is what we want to achieve, and the youths themselves will have a say in this.
“If you want to do such a good thing bring in the private sector and sit down with them and also with the youths; what do you want to achieve?
“Unless you have the private sector involved in this it will not work because this administration will not be there after its tenure including State Governors to sustain it, and these are the challenges we have.
“We also advice that let it be an investment and that money coming from the government should be seen as an investment contributed as part of its own share to the investment with the private sector because they are bringing and providing jobs for the youths and bring in the private sector to join in, take over and run it thereafter for profit.
“The minimum that should happen that is apart from the ones that is done on the basis of grant everything else should come back to government over the period of 10-15 years for what government has put in then the private sector can in also there. That is what I am advising should be done.
“We want partnership with NALDA but should be business driven on the basis of providing jobs for youths, and it should be that even though this government is not there again another one come in the programme and project are sustained.
“The only way for effective sustainability is private sector involvement because the concept is good but once this government leaves office what happens thereafter.”
He (Ijewere) also stated NABG’s expectation on the programme so it would not go the way others initiated by past administrations in the agricultural sector over the years did after they were no more in power.
“We expect that this project will be for public-private sector partnership, and after five years the private sector begin to run it on the basis of profitability.
“We also want to know the sustainability programme of NALDA, and the only way is to bring in the private sector so that change of government does not have any effect on the economic development of our youths”, he added.