Agro-allied industrialisation key to inclusive growth

Elizabeth Christopher and Hauwa Noroh Ali, Abuja

The Nigerian Government says that the country is determined to come out of recession despite the decline in oil revenue due to fall in oil prices and vandalisation of oil facilities.

The Vice president of Mr Yemi Osinbajo while declaring the 11th African Economic conference open in Abuja Nigeria’s capital stated that the Conference which has the theme “Feed Africa: Towards agro-allied industrialisation for inclusive growth”  is timely as it will help Africa achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2 of ending hunger

He said with the currents administration strive to diversify the economy and block leakages this would be possible.

He added that one of his administrations priority is to promote Agriculture given that Nigeria is blessed with arable land as such it is making deliberate policies that would encourage farmers and help the country achieve food sustainability.

“The Key part of the solution therefore is to rapidly raise productivity of agriculture, reduce our dependency on food import and expand foreign exchange earnings from export oriented agriculture”

He added that Nigeria has comparative advantage in agriculture with vast amount of arable land and good agro ecological environment as a government we are developing more policies to increase food production.

For his part the President of the African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi Adesina stated  that unlocking the potential of agro-industrial development across all of Africa is what this conference is about, ’the choice of Nigeria as host is apt as it’s the most populous country in Africa with economic agriculture potential.“If well managed, Nigeria has the potential to become a global powerhouse through agro-industrialization”.

He said that agriculture, which contributes over 28% of the GDP of Africa, holds the key for the accelerated growth diversification and job creation for African economies as no region of the world has moved to industrialized economy status without passing through the transformation of the agricultural sector.

“The reason is simple. Agriculture provides the basic raw materials needed for industrial development. Food accounts for the highest share of consumer price index and providing cheap food is critical for taming inflation.

When inflation is low, interest rates decline and it brings greater private sector investments. A more productive, efficient and competitive agriculture sector is critical for boosting rural economies, where majority of the population live in Africa. A more prosperous rural economy will drive jobs and accelerate rural savings, critical for more inclusive growth. In short, the future of Africa depends on agriculture”.

“To be clear: agriculture has largely been seen as a development sector, for managing poverty, not for creating wealth. Yet, Africa sits on huge potential in agriculture. It is estimated that 65% of all the uncultivated arable land left in the world, to feed 9 billion people by 2050, lies in Africa. So, what Africa does with agriculture will also shape the future of food globally Adesina said”

He further added that Africa spends $35 billion annually importing food. As it does, it decimates its own agriculture, spends scare foreign exchange importing what it can and should produce, exports jobs and makes itself subject to price effects from global commodity supply shocks.

Estimates show that food and agribusiness sector is projected to grow from $330 billion today to $1 trillion by 2030. The key is to unlock this opportunity.

And it must start with treating agriculture as a business. It must start with taking a full value chain approach to modernize agriculture, from the farm to the table. And it must start with supporting agro-industrial development.

Also speaking Acting Executive Secretary United Nations Economic Commission for Africa UNECA Dr Abdalla Hamdok stated that the theme of the conference responds very well to ECA’s on-going structural transformation campaign for the continent to promote accelerated, sustained and inclusive growth and development.

He said Africa made notable gains of growth and productivity underpinned by improved economic governance and steady though slow diversification.

“Yet, as we all know progress towards Africa’s social development goals remains slow. In particular, unemployment, poverty and inequality rates as well as food security remain high and must be addressed as a matter of priority if the continent is to avoid reversals” Abdalla said