The Federal Government has commended the chairman of the Nigeria AgricBusiness Group (NABG), Sani Dangote for his contribution towards the development of the agricultural sector in the country.
Dangote is the Vice President of the Dangote Group, Africa’s foremost conglomerate.
Speaking at the AGRIKEXPO/NABG Conference Monday in Abuja, Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbe said Dangote’s NABG and Dangote Group are making farming attractive and wooing investors at the same time; while the Dangote Group has invested enormously and created jobs across the value chain.
He regretted that despite the fact that the agricultural sector is the biggest employer of labour and largest contributor to the GDP, the country was yet to maximise its potentials as less than 40% of the arable lands are being cultivated.
The minister said the theme of the three-day conference: ‘From Food Oil to Crude Oil’, was apt in the light of the need to diversify the economy.
The Federal Government, he said, will soon recapitalise the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and strengthen it so that it would be able to extend credit facilities to Small and Medium Scale farmers at around seven per cent interest rate.
The minister said in about 30 years time the Nigerian population would be in the region of 500million people, while the world’s population would hit 10 billion, adding that there was need to prepare ahead.
He said that the government was planning a farmers day where farmers would be appreciated and rewarded, just as he announced that the government was collaborating with relevant international agencies to bring back extension services.
Speaking, Dangote said the NABG is an association for all associations and stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
According to him the NABG is interacting with the public sector to revive the sector.
He urged Nigerians to look at the current economic problem as an opportunity to invest in the agricultural sector.
Speaking in the same vein, the Coordinator of the NABG Emmanuel Ijewere said it is possible for Nigeria to retrace its steps back to agriculture while the NABG as a private sector group is trying to ensure that the entire value chain is carried along.
“Everybody needs everybody in the agriculture value chain,” he said.
Speaking also Group Managing Director of the Dangote Sugar Refinery (DSR) Plc, Abdullahi Sule, said the Dangote’s sugar master plan is aimed at producing sugar from various locations across Nigeria, including Savannah Sugar Company Limited, in Numan Adamawa State.
“The plan is aimed at producing 1.5 million tons of refined white sugar annually from locally grown sugarcane. In view of the current economic situation, we have broken the projects implementation in phases. Our focus is on Savannah, Lau/Tau and the Niger State project sites.”