The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has commended First Bank Nigeria Limited for the bank’s commitment and investment in agriculture in the country, calling on other financial institutions, investors and farmers to join in the growth of the sector.
Speaking at the opening session of the First Bank Agric expo 2018, the minister called for the exchange of ideas by stakeholders in the financial and agric sector.
The minister noted that the government is taking steps in tackling the challenges in the sector. “We understand the difficulties banks face but the good news is that things are changing positively, because we are investing in seed testing, our research institutes are doing a great deal of work, we are investing more in teaching the farmers and we are also watching the value chain development from the farm through to the factory,’’ he said
Stating that agriculture export of the country over the past couple of years, he said exports have gone up more than 180 per cent. “We are exporting more than we are importing. We have cut down on food import successfully especially on the area of rice where we are spending an average of five million dollar per day.”
Speaking at the event, the managing director and chief executive of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and Subsidiaries, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan stated that the bank has over the years, committed to nation building, whilst promoting agric-business and the development of the economy in Nigeria. He said the expo is part of the bank’s commitment to support agric businesses across the value chain and play its enabling role in the nation’s drive for economic diversification through agriculture
He said: “This second consecutive edition of the FirstBank Agric Expo is indicative of our commitment to increasingly collaborate with public and private sector partners to fully restore the prime role of the agricultural sector as the mainstay of our national economy. Over 124 years ago, our Bank commenced operations with a major strategic focus on financing agriculture development as well as enabling farmers and agro businesses. I am pleased to note that agricultural financing across all value chains remains a core part of our business today.”
Senior Fellow/Associate Professor at Lagos Business School, Dr. Doyin Salami, who delivered the keynote address, while speaking on the importance of the sector to the growth of the country, pointed out that agriculture has a lot to play in the green economy. “It is the only sector that is growing constituently and we cannot continue to import what we consume. Out of the 46 sectors, it is the only sector that has consistently contributed to the economy which need more attention,” Salami said.
The Expo featured master classes aimed at providing in-depth exposition on specific areas of agricultural business. The classes were facilitated by enterprising subject matter experts who shared their success stories and experiences in the business segment. The master classes were ‘Agricultural Processing for Self-reliance and Export’ and ‘iAgric: Emerging Trends for Agropreneurs’.
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