Managing director/chief executive, Heritage Bank Limited, Mr. Ifie Sekibo has called for innovation in the agricultural sector in order to maximise the sector’s contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Sekibo made this call while speaking to a group of investors stressing that innovation is necessary to tackle the challenges to productivity in the agricultural sector.
Speaking on the challenges and potentials of Nigeria’s agricultural sector, he said: “Statistically, we are about 198 million people as nation though we believe we are about 210 million, GDP growth 1.5 percent, before recession, we are doing about 6 percent and we are at 11.28 percent inflation but still hoping it comes down. Agriculture is 22.86 percent, Industry 23.18percent and services at 53.97 percent. Essentially, we will say our economy is driven by services.
“Nigeria has a very large market, plenty labour force, plenty of waterways because almost every part of Nigeria has waterways and enough land to feed ourselves and nearly half the world because we truly have a land fertile for Agriculture and we have only utilized 40 percent of which we waste about 70 percent of the lands.
“For rice, Nigeria should be producing about 6.3 metric tonnes and one begin to wonder why we are poor as a nation if we have such opportunities. Instead we are doing about 2.3 metric tonnes and you can see the gap of about 4 million metric tonnes that we could have produced but we are importing.
“That is a negative for our economy. A lot of other gaps in the Agricultural sector shows that indeed we have a lot of room for investments. You will realize that every state of this federation and every Geo-political zones has a lot to offer, the North-West, North-East is a hub for agriculture only if we do the right thing and maximize the opportunities.
The South, we can spoon the world in the South only if we maximize the opportunities that abound in the zone.
“So why are we not making progress as a nation especially in the areas of Agriculture? They are due to some few challenges which include our import supplies, production, processing and basically trade which are components of Agriculture.
“The vulnerability shocks we have out there can be dealt with if we put in place innovations platform, strategies and the likely outcomes. These are essentially what we need to do. If we can achieve some of these innovations in Agriculture, we will turn our country around.
We need to look at the issue of climate change; we need to look at why we have been unable to create inventions and innovations that make our work in the Agricultural space.”