THE Group Head, Agric Finance and Solid Minerals at Sterling Bank, Bukola Awosanya, has said agriculture productivity in Africa is low and a source of concern.
According to her, the sector accounts for 60 per cent of the continent’s labour force and 75per cent of its domestic trade.
“The creation of a single African market with over 1.2 billion people through the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) treaty is not without possible adverse impact on the sector’s growth which calls for a pan-African agriculture summit.”
She said to strengthen agriculture, Sterling Bank will bring together policy makers, development agencies, international financial institutions, and value chain players on the continent through Agriculture Summit Africa scheduled September 5 and 6 in Abuja.
The summit with: Agriculture – Your Piece of The Trillion-Dollar Economy as theme, will seek the actualisation of the $1 trillion African agribusiness economy dream by 2030. More than 50 per cent of the world’s fertile and unused land estimated as 450 million hectares is in Africa.
She said: “Sterling Bank has been at the forefront of Nigeria’s agricultural transformation agenda which seeks commercialisation at scale nationwide through focus on value chains where the country has comparative advantage. This market-led transformation driven by strategic partnerships is stimulating investment, creating new jobs, wealth and food security. It is imperative that this same model is 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.”
She added that the international summit would foster an integrated approach to agricultural value chain transformation on the continent while also facilitating intra-African trade. It will also unveil current agricultural trends, innovations and opportunities for private and public-sector investment and participation in Africa.
Last year, the lender 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. The workshop which focused on co-creating a sustainable Nigerian economy through rural agricultural enterprise was chaired by former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh. This year’s agriculture summit is a more ambitious attempt to discuss issues that will propel Africa to attain her full potential in the Agriculture sector.
A thought leader and preferred lender by players in the local agriculture value chain, Sterling Bank has the record of being the first commercial bank to lend under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) led Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) with over 22,000 small holder farmers as beneficiaries.