Agricultural imports cost Nigeria about N3.35 trillion between 2016 and 2019, according to the Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Tony Elumelu.
Elumelu, who spoke at a summit on Agribusiness said Nigeria’s cumulative agricultural imports were four times higher than its agricultural export of N803 billion within the same period.
Elumelu said Nigeria’s increasing population, estimated to reach 400 million by 2050, meant that the rate of consumption would continue to grossly exceed local production.
This, he said, presents an opportunity that Oyo State is well-placed to fill.
Elumelu reiterated the significance of agriculture to Africa’s development.
He said agriculture is Africa’s largest employer of labour, employing more women than any other sector, generating inclusive economic growth, building a multiplier effect that lifts families and communities out of poverty.
He said investment in agriculture is a direct investment in poverty eradication and job creation.
“Akin to what Silicon Valley is to North America in technology, Oyo State should be to Africa the beacon and leading entity in agriculture. This is why at the Tony Elumelu Foundation, with leading philanthropy empowering young African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, we prioritise the Agriculture sector.
“Out of the over 10,000 young Nigerians and Africans that we have empowered through our non-refundable seed capital of $5,000, more than a third of our beneficiaries are agri-business ventures,” he said.
Elumelu said agriculture consistently ranks in the top three of sectors entrepreneurs venture into.
He added that at the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, the team had empowered 158 indigenes of Oyo State in the past seven years.