Billionaire businessman and Chairman of United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Tony Elumelu, has said that investment in agriculture is a direct investment in poverty eradication and job creation in Africa.
Elumelu disclosed this at the Oyo Agribusiness Summit and Exhibition hosted by Governor Seyi Makinde to transform the state’s agricultural landscape into the agribusiness hub of Nigeria.
The business mogul noted that Oyo state should be to Africa, the beacon and leading entity in agriculture similar to what Silicon Valley is to North America in the area of Technology. He stressed that the agricultural sector is critical for Africa’s development as it is the continent’s largest employer of labour, adding also that what the sector generates is inclusive, broad-based, and effective in creating a multiplier effect that helps lift families and communities out of poverty.
The banker and philanthropist said the agricultural sector has the capacity to drive growth in Nigeria and in Africa through channelling investment funds in the sector. According to him, “Investment in agriculture is a direct investment in poverty eradication and job creation. This is why at the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we are empowering young African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries to prioritise the agriculture sector.”
He stressed that the foundation has empowered over a third of more than 10,000 young Nigerians and Africans in the agri-business space through its non-refundable seed capital of $5000 as the sector ranks in the top 3 of sectors entrepreneurs venture into.
He added, “Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, we have empowered 158 natives of Oyo State over 7 years. Even more impressive and relevant to our conversation today, is that 48 of these entrepreneurs, accounting for nearly a third of the total number from the state have their businesses in the agriculture sector.”
He noted that Nigeria’s cumulative agricultural imports stood at N3.35 trillion; four times higher than its agricultural export of N803 billion between 2016 and 2019. He also projected that Nigeria’s population, estimated to reach 400 million by 2050, means that the rate of consumption will continue to grossly exceed local production.
Kennedy Uzoka, Group Managing Director, UBA established that agriculture in Nigeria has gone through developmental phases over time. Inferring from a 2016 CBN data, he said the sector in the 1960s contributed 85 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and 90 per cent of employment generation. He added that the data also confirms that at independence in 1960, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP was about 80%, which is typical for a developing agrarian nation.
Commending the governor, he said, “It’s obvious the state under the leadership of Engineer Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde has taken the right path by choosing agribusiness as one of the key economic development areas of their government in achieving their planned development. Because, it’s only a strong and efficient agricultural sector that can feed the growing population of a country, provide employment, play a vital role in the foreign trade and earning of foreign exchange and give a strong base to the industries.”
What you should know about the agri-business summit
The three-day Agribusiness Summit and Exhibition hosted by Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde is aimed at bringing together key actors in the agribusiness space globally in order to showcase the potentials for agribusiness investments by the private sector, offer prospective investors and stakeholders a platform to better understand the investment opportunities in agribusiness as well as identify areas for coordinated public-private investment in the value chain development in the state.
Similarly, the summit is expected to attract investors globally and create more economic opportunities for the promotion of the state and Nigeria at large.