The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and partners have advised stakeholders in the agro-industry to collaborate, invest and empower youths to make the sector economically viable and productive.
A statement said IITA stated this at the Agribusiness Investors Network organised in Lagos.
The event, organised by IITA in partnership with Mastercard Foundation and Ecobank, had in attendance the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; representatives of African Development Bank; Lagos State Government; Sterling Bank; First City Monument Bank; First Bank Plc; Nigerian Agribusiness Group; and Fintech Association of Nigeria.
In his welcome remarks, the Deputy Director, General Partnership for Partnership and Delivery, IITA, Ken Dashiell, noted that it had become imperative for stakeholders to work together to empower the youth in transforming Nigeria’s Food system.
Dashiell said government and other developmental partners must begin to put the right policies and programmes in place to attract the youth into agriculture.
In his keynote address, Obasanjo, who is also an ambassador of IITA, said that a concerted effort must be made to ensure that the funding gap in agribusiness was bridged.
He added that financial institutions, investors and entrepreneurs must collaborate.
Obasanjo noted that the sector must be attractive for the youth because no serious entrepreneur would be interested in seeking a double-digit loan.
He explained that the agricultural sector had suffered too long due to lack of commitment in industry development and inadequate funding from the government as well as uncertainty from potential investors and other key stakeholders.
He stressed the need for government to invest heavily in the agricultural sector, because no nation had witnessed reasonable industrial development without paying adequate attention to agriculture.
Also speaking, the Managing Director and Regional Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Bolaji Lawal, explained that the bank was committed to supporting any investment that would stimulate the growth of Nigeria’s economy and transform the opportunities in Nigeria into business and empowerment for the youth.