By Dipo Olowookere
Group Head of Agriculture Finance and Solid Minerals at Sterling Bank, Ms Bukola Awosanya has expressed concerns over the low level of agriculture productivity in Africa.
According to her, “Agriculture productivity in Africa is low and a source of concern in the sector that accounts for 60 percent of the continent’s labour force and 75 per cent of its domestic trade.”
She said it was based on this that the bank was bringing together stakeholders in the sector, including policy makers, development agencies, international financial institutions, and value chain players in agriculture on the continent, to a summit slated for the first week of September in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Last year, Sterling Bank brought together smallholder farmers, input suppliers, agro processing entrepreneurs, development finance agencies, policy makers and captains of industry through a technical workshop on the agriculture value chain in Abuja.
This year’s event, according to the organisers, is themed Agriculture: Your piece of the trillion-dollar economy.
It was stated that more than 50 percent of the world’s fertile and unused land estimated at 450 million hectares was in Africa, yet agriculture productivity was still low.
“And the creation of a single African market with over 1.2 billion people through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement treaty is not without possible adverse impact on the sector’s growth which calls for a pan-African agriculture summit,” Ms Awosanya further expressed worries.
She added that the bank had been at the forefront of Nigeria’s agricultural transformation agenda through focus on value chains where the country had comparative advantage, noting that this market-led transformation driven by strategic partnerships would stimulate investment, create new jobs, wealth and food security.
She added that it was imperative that the same model was adopted across the 54 countries that now make up the single African market to improve productivity, guarantee food security and ensure a future of shared prosperity for all Africans.
According to her, the international summit will foster an integrated approach to agricultural value chain transformation on the continent while also facilitating intra-African trade, pointing out that it would also unveil current agricultural trends, innovations and opportunities for private and public-sector investment and participation in Africa.
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