Agric attracts $5.6bn private sector investment in 4 years

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said that the Nigerian agriculture attracted about $5.6 billion private sector investment between 2011 and 2014.

The Minister, who disclosed this yesterday at the inaugural ceremony of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Policy Working Group in Abuja, said the private sector has woken up to see agriculture as the new wealth sector, between 2011 and 2014, to the extent that the sector attracted over $5.6 billion of private sector investments – a record anywhere in Africa. This, according to him, included the recent decision by Dangote to invest $1 billion in commercial rice production in Nigeria, which was the largest ever single investment on food production in Africa.

He stated that there has been a huge decrease on Nigeria’s food import bill following the ongoing Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).

“Due to the ATA, Nigeria’s food import bill declined from $6.9 billion in 2009 to $4.34 billion by the end of 2013, reducing foreign exchange deficits. Between 2011 and 2014, national food production expanded by an additional 21 million metric tonnes of food, surpassing the 20 million metric tonnes of food production target set for 2015.”

Speaking further on the current drive in agriculture, Adesina noted that with the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reduced the risk in banks’ lending for farmers and reduced the lending rate to farmers.

“The CBN’s NIRSAL facility to reduce the risk of lending to agriculture is working. Banks are lending to agriculture today more than ever before. The share of lending to agriculture as a share of total bank lending expanded from about 2 per cent in 2011 to 5 per cent by 2013.

“Bank lending to seed companies and agro-input dealers expanded from $10 million in 2012 to $53 million in 2013 while bank lending to fertilizer companies expanded from $100 million in 2012 to $500 million by 2014.”

Earlier in his address, the Chief Economic Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Nwanze Okidegbe, said ATA is focused on modernising agriculture and raising agricultural productivity.

He also added that ATA is set at “improving input supply and marketing, stimulating private sector investments to unlock and embark on reforms and policies to create enabling environment and incentives for the private sector.”

In his response, the Chairman of the Policy Working Group, Prof. Olu Ajakaiye, thanked the Minister for the opportunity and also pledged commitment to service.

Source : SunOnline

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