The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has tasked the Federal Government to fashion out measures that would enable Nigeria achieve its diversification agenda through agricultural interventions.
Mrs Edobong Akpabio, the new Chairperson, Agriculture and Agro-Allied Group, LCCI, gave the charge in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Saturday, in Lagos.
Akpabio, who began a two-year tenure in May, expressed her optimism on the role of agriculture in reviving the Nigerian economy.
She identified limitations, such as unfavourable loan interest rates, unrealistic collateral requirements, onerous application procedure for loans, insufficient loan size and maturity date as hindering the sector.
“Others are, poor infrastructure, multiple taxation and charges. These issues should be mitigated, if the diversification goal of the government is to be achieved through agricultural interventions,” she said.
Akpabio attributed the current hike in food prices and other commodities to the ripple effect of the increasing cost of funding, insecurity and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on planting, particularly during the lockdown.
She explained that the COVID-19 lockdown began around the time planting was to commence, when many farmers were unable to access their farmlands.
“By the time it was lifted, a lot of ground has been lost and this has affected food supply, though we are only just seeing it now.
“Also, inflation is high and the moment there’s inflation, prices will go up, as the cost of funding has gone up, so the cost of providing the goods and services will also rise.
“Terrorists and herdsmen/farmers clashes have also affected food production with farm invasions and destruction. Farming is not like a factory, as it takes time. The solution is to galvanise the populace by teaching them how to farm.
“Everybody has a backyard or access to some land where basic vegetables and cash crops can be planted for consumption and sale.
“This galvanisation should be done neighbourhood by neighbourhood, community by community, to address the food crisis,” she said.
She revealed that programmes and collaborations with the government on urban farming were ongoing to improve self-reliance in the agricultural sector.
Akpabio, who also spoke on the scarcity of Titus and Croaker fishes, said the time had come to increase and improve local fishing species and resources, so as to reduce reliance on imported ones.
“We have enormous fish resources and species that are local and we must focus on them as we cannot continue to rely on imported food.
“We do not need to spend the little foreign exchange we have to eat what we do not produce,” she said.
On her new appointment, Akpabio pledged to revive the group’s cooperative society, build and scale up businesses of members, to ensure connectivity to opportunities offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“The major benefits of the LCCI is to grow our business and we want our members to further benefit from that.
“It is our plan to strengthen and add more specialised value to the many agricultural sub groups and continue with the tradition of our annual conference, as part of our contributions to the sector’s development,” she said.
NAN reports that Akpabio, who was elected to steer the ship of the group for the next two years, is also the co-Founder, Visionage Agrotech Farms Limited and Organic Green Animalia Farms Limited, two notable Agribusiness organisations.
Akpabio has also contributed immensely to the reversal of importation of several agricultural products and has assisted in local content drive and sustainability. (NAN)