Nigeria accounts for $11 billion of Africa’s $35.4 billion food items imports annually, the Acting Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BoI), Mr. Waheed Olagunju, has said.
He said Bol was working to make farmers see farming as a business and not a subsistence activity. To this end, BoI has come out to teach farmers good agronomical practices and best practices in soil preparation, among other things.
Olagunju, who spoke at a media parley in Lagos titled: “Sustaining Nigeria’s industrial sector growth through impactful partnership,’’said as a country with a huge population, Nigeria needs to feed her citizens and also export to other countries to grow her Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said: “Huge population can be advantageous if it is productive, otherwise it becomes a liability. As a country with 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs), with each LGA blessed with at least a natural resource, we have no reason not to feed our population or create employment”.
While encouraging investments in farming and food processing, the BoI chief said investors can never go wrong. According to him, Nigeria ranked fourth with 35 per cent on Return on Investment (RoI) globally.
He said RoI should not be taken for granted, adding “We should try and de-risk our environment, improve on climate and continue to take measures by increasing our ranking in doing business.’’
While calling for collaborative efforts from multi-lateral agencies, Olagunju stated that industrialisation is a multi-faceted process and no single agency can drive the industrialisation of any country. He said it is the only way the nation’s economy can be transformed in the shortest possible time.
Olagunju added that Nigeria’s population was growing, hence there was the need to take a quick decision to remedy the challenges that come with population growth. “All hands must be on deck to achieve our desired economic and developmental goals,” he said.
On the areas of support to agriculture, he said the bank has supported cassava growers and those who have gone further to add value to cassava to produce ethanol, starch, glucose, syrup and starch.
“We are partnering the Federal Government on the disbursement of N220 billion to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and State Governments to draw up to N2 billion to support farmers in their state at two per cent,” he said.
In addition, the bank, Olagunju said, made available N140 billion intervention fund as micro-credit programme to over 1.6 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). He said the nation is at a point that it should begin to add value to products from the rudimentary level for local consumption and for exports to generate foreign exchange for the country.
“If we start adding value to our primary products, we will not have enough people to work. We will stimulate primary products, sell for the local market and export as each of the 774 local governments has at least one local product to process.
“Unfortunately we are the only oil producing country that is exporting crude oil while others add value before exporting thus earning more. Our advocacy is for a paradigm shift,” Olagunju stated