Aggressive adoption of new technologies can help to significantly transform Nigeria’s per-hectare yields of agricultural production by improving gains from the agricultural sector.
This is according to Professor Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialisation to the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Oyelaran-Oyeyinka made the observation on Tuesday while delivering his keynote address at the Feed Nigeria Summit (FNS) 2020 held at the Ladi Kwali Conference, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.
The keynote address, titled: Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ): Engaging the Implementation Gear for Rapid Economic Recovery, was delivered virtually.
The Feed Nigeria Summit, hosted annually by AgroNigeria, is famed as Nigeria’s foremost agricultural sector convocation aimed at catalyzing transformational progress for the country’s agriculture.
This year’s edition of the Summit, which was themed: Agribusiness: Leading Nigeria’s Recovery, was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 1st and 2nd, 2020.
Speaking virtually during the Summit, Oyelaran-Oyeyinka noted Nigeria’s agricultural productivity remains below par because of insurgency in the North East and the incessant farmer-herder crisis.
The don also listed the constraints facing the sector to include reliance on food importation, low-level of farm productivity and practice of value-added agriculture and unavailability of modernised skilled agricultural workers.
Others listed are low-level of mechanisation, institutional barriers and continued use of old technology for production.
The professor noted that AfDB’s SAPZ Project in Nigeria seeks to address these by establishing quality control laboratories and certification centres, raw material storage centres, cold storage chains, among others.
He said, “The global food industry is 4.7 times bigger than the automobile which is estimated at US$1.3 trillion, 7 times larger than the information technology industry which is estimated to be worth US$0.9 trillion.
“Aggressive adoption of new technologies is important to increase our yields. In 2019, Netherland exported food worth €94.5 billion. In 2018, all Nigeria got from oil is N30 billion.”
Oyelaran-Oyelakin also noted that the Board of the African Development Bank was working towards approving the fund for the SAPZ, assuring that by the first quarter of 2021, the fund would be disbursed.
He added that the SAPZ is being affected across Africa with the Ethiopia Agro-industrial Park under construction.
Meanwhile, the Senior Country Director (Acting), Nigeria, AfDB, Lamin Barrow, has stressed the importance of partnership in boosting the growth of agriculture in Nigeria.
Barrow, who reiterated the connection between the Summit and the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy, further pointed out that while the SAPZ will be public-sector enabled, it would be private-sector led.
He also noted that the SAPZ would help to reduce post-harvest losses, improve linkages with marketers and producers as well as establish the requisite infrastructure to attract investments to rural areas in Nigeria.
The director also described the Project as timely in light of the January 2021 take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
He also reiterated the AfDB’s commitment to the successful implementation of the Project in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
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