Dr. Olukayode Oyeleye who was a session speaker at the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise conference hosted by MSMEsToday and Business Day Wednesday 28th April 2021 themed “African Continental Free Trade Agreement as Economic Game Changer: Positioning MSMEs in the Agribusiness Sector to Take the Lead”, stated the importance of increasing funding to the agribusiness sector in other to increase production, processing and to attracting the youth population to the agricultural sector.
According to him, ‘the Nigerian government has made emphasis on the importance of diversifying the economy away from a total reliance on oil as the main source of revenue. Therefore, in order to boost Nigeria’s economy, alternate sources of revenue must be used, and research has shows that the regional market for goods and services is worth $504.17 Billion and $162 Billion, respectively’, he said.
In his presentation, Dr. Oyeleye noted that agriculture is profitable, however, the difficulty lies in variables that are beyond the control of investors. He noted that research institutes are poorly funded, and that funding through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development is prone to mismanagement.
Responding to questions during the conference, he noted that funding was central to the agricultural value chains, the daily demand for food, a shift in emphasis from the use of fossil fuel energy sources to renewable energy sources, and the implications of these energy sources.
He highlighted available funding options such as direct and indirect funding options. Direct funding come from the government (both State and Federal), through the ministry, and through research institutes. Indirect funding could come from banks and philanthropists such as USAID, GIZ, African Development Bank, World Bank, etc. Dr. Oyeleye urged the government to protect local producers from debilitating effects of cheap imports and/or smuggled products. He added that contracts with domestic suppliers should be facilitated and access to credit using the contracts as collateral.
Dr. Oyeleye added that there is a strategic justification for projecting the youth as a catalyst for spearheading this diversification. Data shows that 63% of Nigeria’s population are below age 25, while 43% comprise of children aged 0-14. This means that the ageing farming population needs to be replaced. He said that “youth involvement in agribusiness and opening export is an imperative”. Explaining that the world is currently tech driven, agriculture provides avenues for young, energetic, and tech savvy youth to expand their services across the African regional level.
Dr. Oyeleye emphasized the importance of data, urging stakeholders to engage with research organizations and with reputable trade organizations and chambers of commerce to obtain current and reliable data and information.