Ecobank in partnership with Vanguard Newspapers held the maiden edition of the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit themed Unlocking Productivity and Investment Opportunities across Nigeria’s Agribusiness Value Chain on the 13th of February at Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event featured two panel discussions. It was opened by Mr. Ademola Ayeyemi, Group CEO, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated. Mr. Ayeyemi asked players in the Nigerian agricultural sector to keep their eyes on the big prize i.e. the vast opportunity for every player in the value chain in enhancing the capacity to feed Nigeria’s 200 million people. The EcoBank Group CEO, Mr. Patrick Akinwutan, noted that enhancing the productivity of Nigerian agriculture across the value chain would not only reduce the foreign exchange spent on importing food items but would also revive the role of the sector as a major exporter.
Mr. Akinwutan, while delivering his welcome address, announced the N70 billion Ecobank Agric Fund available for supporting the agricultural sector. He shared some details about Ecobank’s partnership with Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to create a credible database of the entire agricultural value chain. He explained the importance of the partnership with NIRSAL to promote financial inclusion in the agricultural sector as critical in achieving food security.
The keynote presentation was given by Andrew Nevin, Chief Economist and Partner, Financial Service Sector, PwC West Africa. According to Mr. Nevin, Nigeria’s agricultural sector contributes about 25% to the GDP and employs 48.2% of the labour force but spent N1.4 Trillion on food import while exporting food items worth only N302 billion. Mr. Nevin suggested that the key to unlocking the potential of Nigeria’s agriculture lies with boosting its productivity. Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, MD/CEO, NIRSAL, gave a detailed presentation on the mission and operations of his organisation.
The first panel session, Unlocking the Potential for increasing Agricultural Production and Productivity, was moderated by Mr. Wole Famurewa, an award-winning business journalist and conference moderator, and had Dr. Emmanuel Ijewere, NABG, Mr. African Farmer Mogaji, CEO, Farm Credit, Ade Adefeko, VP, Olams, Aliyu Abdulhammed, CEO NIRSAL, and Mrs Folake Aina, MD, VB&S Farms as discussants.
The second panel, Maximising Finance for Development across the Agricultural Value Chains, featured stakeholders and experts such as Dr. Andrew Nevin, Partner, PwC West Africa, Patrick Akinwutan, MD/CEO, Ecobank Nigeria, Ayodeji Balogun, CEO AFEX Commodities Exchange, Olalekan Oyinade, MD Old Mutual Nigeria, Soji Awogbade, Partner, AELEX, and Mrs. Tola Johnson, MD Agboola Farms Nig Ltd. It was moderated by Mr. Boason Omofaye.
In attendance were high-profile individuals and stakeholders in the Agricultural space, the likes of Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono, Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Republic of Nigeria represented by Mr. Mustapha Shehuri, Honorable Minster for State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Urban Development; Mr. Eze Anaba, Editor-in-Chief, Vanguard Newspapers; Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, National President, National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACIMA); Honorable Adewole Adedayo, Commissioner for Agriculture, Osun State; Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos represented by Mrs, Abisola Olusanya, Special Adviser to the Governor; Segun Akinolugbade, Former ETI Director, among others.