Sterling Bank Plc has said there are massive opportunities in the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy for those who are prepared to work hard, with a clear vision and commitment.
Chairman of the board of directors of the bank, Mr. Asue Ighodalo disclosed this in his address of welcome at the opening of the 2022 Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA) hosted by the bank recently in Lagos themed Engineering A Trillion Dollar Agricultural Economy. This year’s ASA is hosted by the bank in collaboration with her esteemed partners including, Leadway Assurance, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Thrive Agric, GIZ, Noor Takaful, Microsoft Nigeria, and Stears Data, among others.
He remarked that the ASA remains a signpost of the bank’s commitment to the agricultural sector, one of the five sectors of specific focus in the bank’s HEART strategy. The other sectors are health, education, agriculture, renewable energy, and transportation.
According to him, “As a major financial institution and the leading institution in this sector, we are ready and prepared, and we have the financial expertise to partner strongly with such resourceful agripreneurs.”
Ighodalo also noted in his speech that Nigeria remains “a net food importer “. He further remarked that ” Today, we only export primary raw materials with minimal value added. Sadly, in four years, our food imports have increased fourfold causing massive pressures on our foreign reserves and thereby also exporting our jobs,” adding, “As a nation that seeks economic growth urgently and food security; we must reverse this trend, immediately.”
He said every developed country jumpstarted its development by building and growing its manufacturing industry through the process of adding value to its agricultural products. Adding that “it has also become a critical imperative that Nigeria increase the quality and yield of its production, achieve food security, capitalize on trade opportunities within the African region and thereby hasten its climb towards economic competitiveness and prosperity.”
As the opening day’s events progressed, the opening sessions focused on achieving import substitution at scale and maximizing agricultural productivity through sustainable means respectively.
Besides the various sessions, there were also panels of discussions. The opening panel focused on solving, with permanence, Nigeria’s reliance on agricultural imports and on the necessary policies now required. It also outlined the specific implementation process for achieving agricultural sustenance, food security, and raw material sufficiency.
The ASA continues into its second day with further deliberations on disruptive technologies and the exploration of agro-commodities as an asset class to further increase the value generated in the sector.