By OLUSHOLA BELLO, Lagos
T he Pan-African conglomerate, Dangote Industries Limited has reiterated its commitment towards partnering various tiers of governments in the country, to build sustainable and inclusive economy for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Agriculture is a branch of the economy in the country, providing employment for about 35 per cent of the population as of 2020. As reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agriculture remains the foundation of the Nigerian economy, despite the presence of oil in the country. It is the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians.
With the way Nigeria’s economy is, the country’s agriculture sector took on even more importance. Long touted as a remedy to the West African nation’s dependence on oil, agriculture is now seen as a potential economic saviour. Before hydrocarbons became the main source of economic growth and export revenue, agriculture dominated the local economy.
As the hydrocarbons industry has contracted in the face of low global oil prices, the government has turned to agriculture as a means of driving growth and employment. Though the sector has fallen from the heights of the 1960s, when it accounted for as much as 70 per cent of the country’s exports, it still remains a major employer, accounting for around two-thirds of all jobs in the country. Moreover, the potential for further growth continues to look strong.
Dangote Industries announced its partnership with the Ogun State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OGUNCCIMA) at the 10th Gateway International Trade Fair 2021, themed ‘Remodeling Agriculture, Commerce and Trade beyond Nigerian Borders with Modern Technology’ held in Abeokuta.
Group chief branding and communication director, Mr. Anthny Chiejina, in a statement, announcing the company’s participation at this year’s Gateway Trade fair said the group has concluded plans to scale up investments in the agricultural sector, in response to the on-going public policy focus of federal government.
He hinted that as part of the company’s support to the development of agriculture sector, the three million ton per annum Fertilizer Plant it is currently constructing at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos will be commissioned soon to boost agricultural activities in the country.
Chiejina explained that all the subsidiaries of the company would be at the trade fair and urged members of the public to take advantage of this year’s fair to strike partnership with the group for business opportunities.
According to him, the group has also kick-started the development of six large scale rice milling plants in six states, namely; Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara, Niger, Kebbi, and Sokoto, with a combined total milling capacity of 1.5 million per annum.
He said Dangote`s growing investment in the agricultural sector, is to complement the existing and continuing investments being made in other sectors, such as: Cement, Salt and other consumer products.
“We are also significantly involved in the Oil and Gas sector, with an on-going construction of one of the World`s Largest Petroleum Refinery. This will not only put an end to the embarrassing importation of products into our crude oil rich country but will also significantly boost our intra-African trade position,” he said.
He commended federal government’s policy, as efforts to bring Nigeria back on track, adding that, such policy initiatives are necessary, if the nation is to attain sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation.
“We must also commend the leadership of OGUNCCIMA for the very apt theme of this year’s edition of the Fair: ‘Remodeling Agriculture, Commerce and Trade beyond Nigerian Borders with Modern Technology’.
“Clearly, given the current focus of both the federal government and Ogun state and indeed most other states in the country on the Agricultural Sector as the only incontestable route for the revival and sustained growth of the Nigerian Economy, there can be no more pertinent subject matter to which we should direct the attention of all the participants at this Fair.
“This is especially so in Ogun which had in the past been recognized as the leading Agro-Industrial hub not only in Nigeria, but indeed for the entire Southern sahara of Africa,” he said.
He also noted, “President Mohammodu Buhari’s insistence that we cannot expect to achieve development and modernization until we create the capacity to produce what we consume. It is only by developing our agriculture along its various value chains that we can ensure sustainable, inclusive economic growth that create jobs for the teeming youthful population.”
It would be recalled that the president of OGUNCIMA, Alhaji Wasiu Olaleye,at the fair, had named Dangote Group as one of the leading sponsors which had announced that it would hit the fair in grand style with the array of its products at reasonable prices.
He said the Fair would serve as a catalyst for the economic growth and development of Ogun State in particular and Nigeria in general which will unleash our strong development and innovative potential.
“The Fair is an international event that will attract over two hundred people from within Ogun State, Nigeria, international participants/Exhibitors from around the world. Also, top government officials, businessmen, researchers, investors, all Local Governments councils, representatives of the Organized Private Sector (OPS) and indeed the general public will be in attendance,” he stated.
It would be recalled that president of Dangote Industries, Alhaji Aliko Dangote stated that the current efforts of the federal government at diversifying the economy to an agriculture centered one remains the viable solution to creating a healthy economy.
Dangote noted that, “his company was investing massively in agribusiness, promoting industrialisation through the backward integration process to ensure Nigeria becomes self-reliant in food production in good time and save it of the much-needed foreign exchange hitherto being spent on importation.”
Touching the lives of people by providing their basic needs is at the core of its mission statement, Dangote Industries constructed the largest fertilizer plant in West Africa.
The fertilizer complex project is located at the Lekki Free Zone (LFZ), in Lagos State. Phase one of the project which is estimated to cost $2.5 billion, is to manufacture three MMTPA of urea. The capacity will later be expanded to produce multiple grades of fertilizers to meet soil, crop and climate-specific requirement for the African continent. Fertilizer is essential for agribusiness in Africa.
The coming on stream of Dangote Fertiliser would surely make Africa self-sufficient in food production and a net exporter of food to the world.