The chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu, has stressed the need to step up initiative on self-sufficiency by making Nigeria the hub of agribusiness in Africa.
This, he stressed, would move the country and African continent towards poverty eradication.
Speaking at the Oyo AgriBusiness Summit 2021, yesterday, Elumelu said agriculture is critical for Africa’s development for two reasons.
According to him, agriculture is the continent’s largest employer of labour, employing more women than any other sector. He added that the economic growth generated by agriculture is inclusive, broad based, and effective in creating a multiplier effect that helps lift families and communities out of poverty.
“Investment in agriculture is therefore a direct investment in poverty eradication and job creation.
“As many African countries struggle with the cost of importing food commodities, these young entrepreneurs are leading the charge for us as a continent to begin to look inward to develop our agriculture sector to ensure food security, generate new employment and eradicate poverty.
“Between 2016 and 2019, Nigeria’s cumulative agricultural imports stood at N3.35 trillion; four times higher than our agricultural export of N803 billion within the same period. Our country’s increasing population, estimated to reach 400 million by 2050, means that the rate of consumption will continue to grossly exceed local production,” he said.
This development, he stressed, presents an opportunity that Oyo State is well-placed to fill, adding, “Oyo State will transform our agricultural landscape to become the agribusiness hub of Nigeria. I would like for us to go one step further – the dream should extend beyond building the agribusiness hub of Nigeria, but of Africa. Akin to what Silicon Valley is to North America in Technology, Oyo State should be to Africa, the beacon and leading entity in Agriculture.”
On his part, the group managing director and chief executive of UBA, Kenedy Uzoka, while commending the Oyo state government led by Governor Seyi Makinde, maintained that the state has taken the right path by choosing agribusiness as one of its key economic development areas to achieve the planned development.