Akinwunmi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (AfDB) has declared that the African financial powerhouse is making frantic and sustainable effort under Feed Africa Initiative to invest $25 billion in agriculture and agribusiness over a period of ten years as part of strategic economic planning to capture and cater for projected
$1 trillion size of food and agriculture in Africa by 2030.
Adesina, who was conferred with Honorary Doctor of Science Degree Award at the 27th Convocation of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) in recognition of his lofty feats as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development on Tuesday, advised President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to revive moribund e-wallet system created during the Administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan in order to ensure that Nigerian farmers have unhindered access to agricultural inputs such as high-yielding seeds, fertilizers, among others.
The AfDB President, who spoke shortly after he was decorated with the Honorary Doctor of Science Degree Award
At the ceremony which had in presence Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state; Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture; Edidem Ekpo Okon, Abasi-Otu, Chancellor; Aboki Zhawa, Pro-Chancellor; Felix Salako, Vice-Chancellor, among others, Adesina said, “The size of food and agriculture in Africa will rise to $1 trillion by 2030. The population of Africa, now at 1.2 billion, will double to 2.5 billion by 2050. They all must eat. And only through food and agribusiness can this be achieved.
“I worked hard as Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria to make agriculture a business. And today it a business, all across the nation.
“The rice revolution which we started in Nigeria, was based on sound combination of science, technology and policy. To address the productivity gap, quality gap and competitiveness gap in rice production, we introduced high yielding varieties Faro 44 and Faro 52. They have high grain quality that matches or beats imported rice varieties. Today, these varieties are the bedrock of the Nigerian rice industry.
“When the rice revolution was unleashed in northern Nigeria in 2013 – following the devastating floods of 2012 that led me to launch the nations first dry season policy – many Nigerians were not aware. They were still looking for the usual Nigerian local rice! As Nigerian local rice hit the market even importers began to bag them for sale as imported rice.
“We invested heavily in integrated rice milling systems so much so that the number of integrated rice mills increased from just one in 2011 to 24 by 2014. The new rice technologies were introduced to 6 million farmers, leading to massive transformation of rice production.
“I am proud of the impact of the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) program under which we delivered subsidized farm inputs to farmers across the country. With the electronic wallet system farmers received vouchers for seeds and fertilizers on their mobile phones across the country. It was a huge success: we reached some 15 million farmers, raising productivity and food security for some 75 million persons.
“I am pleased that the Federal Government has continued the rice policy. But more still needs to be done to revive the e-wallet system to drive access to technologies transparently to tens of millions of farmers.
“I am delighted to see so many of our young people engaged in agriculture arising from the Youth Employment in Agriculture initiative launched when I was minister to get the youth into agriculture as a business.
“The NIRSAL initiative, which I developed jointly with Emir of Kano, the then Central Bank Governor, continues to show huge success and is now a non bank financial institution to de-risk lending to the agricultural sector.
“To the new Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Nanono, you can be sure of my full support in your drive to continue the work of transforming Nigeria’s Agriculture.
“We must develop well integrated agricultural value chains, to make Nigeria more competitive in the food and agriculture industry. That’s why the African Development Bank will be supporting the Federal Government of Nigeria in the development of Special Agroindustrial Processing Zones in Nigeria. These will be enabled with consolidated infrastructure. They will allow the establishment of food and agribusinesses in rural areas, close to zones of production, creating jobs and transforming the rural economies with wealth.
“Universities of agriculture such as the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, have great roles to play in linking research, innovations and technologies to farmers and the food and agriculture industry.
“The African Development Bank is spearheading efforts to Feed Africa and is investing $25 billion over a ten year period to transform the continents agriculture.
“With 65% of the arable land left to feed the world being in Africa, what Africa does with food will determine the future of food in the world. And Africa’s youth must become leaders to help feed our world.”
RAZAQ AYINLA, Abeokuta