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Agri Business Management education, Key to Agricultural Development in Africa

The Association of African Business Schools (AABS) and Agri business Consortium (AAC) lunched the Agri Business Management Programme (AgMP) at the Lagos Business School (LBS), in Lagos-Nigeria on Tuesday, 7th May, 2013.

Various stake holders were present: Policy makers, Agri-business men/women, NGOs and Youths. I also was present as one of the participants representing YPARD, the Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development.

The programme started with a speech by a senior faculty member at LBS, Prof Chantal Epie, advocating on strengthening the capacities of managers of agri businesses to enhance the potential for wealth creation of the sector. She further said that the AgMP programme, sought to provide high quality business, management and leadership education to stakeholders in the Agricultural sector.

The Lagos state Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, Dr Nuruni Funsho, said that the state has increased its budget for agriculture from N50 million to N2 billion to ravamp the sector. He also added that the government voted the amount for agriculture in order to achieve food security. He said there was also enhanced funding for ongoing programmes, such as the World Bank assisted Commercial Agriculture Development Project and the National Fadama 111 development project which had over $100 million of unclaimed funds as well as the AgricYES Programme for training Youth Agri entrepreneurs.

The keynote speaker, Mr Kola Masha stressed that unemployment would not be eradicated without according priority to agriculture. Masha, Managing Director of Doreo Partners added that with a growing population, Lagos should increase volumes of agricultural commodities. Masha asserted that supporting capacities in agribusiness would lead to improvements in crop yields, adding that significant additional farmland would be needed.

The Head, AgricFinance, FirstBank, Mr Ndubuishi Ihedigbo, urged entrepreneurs to commit more human and financial resources to food security challenges.

He said investment plans, supported by adequate financing would enhance the participation of small farmers in food production. Ihedigbo challenged agro entrepreneurs to ensure the operational effectiveness – and consequently the viability –of agro-industrial micro-enterprises.

The Director for the AfricaRegion of Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA), Dr Kola Adebayo, expressed that the sector requires efforts of the government and the private sector to provide Nigerians with high-value agricultural products . “The government, he said, must understand the constraints that traders, agro-businesses and processing firms face and, see how policies can be adjusted to create an enabling environment for growth.”

A faculty member at LBS, Dr Larry Osa-Afiana, mentioned in the panel discussion that a crucial element in the development of the sector was access to finance, particularly bank loans. He said that credit guarantee schemes and other forms of subsidised financing play a major role in agric financing and compensate for the low level of personal funding sources available to agric business operators. He further stated that banks still considered the lack of adequate information the most important deterrent to their involvement in agri businesses.

At the open discussion section, the former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN),Mr Emmanuel Ijewere who left accounting 10 years ago for Agriculture, urged the financial industry to invest in the agric sector. He further stated that many farmers were still feeling the economic woes of past years. Mr. Ijewere is also the Chairman of Agric and Food Security Commission, Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

Finance, he said, was the major constraint of farmers, adding that many farmers were turned down by their banks for loans they needed to keep their farms running. According to him, banks are still giving loans to farmers on high interest rates.

This programme made me learn the need of Agribusiness management education as vital to the sustainable development of the Agric sector in Nigeria, this is especially of interest to youths as the Keynote Speaker, Mr. Kola Masha highlighted the fact that Nigeria has a young population with over 50% of the population below 19 years! There is therefore a strong need for youths to embrace agriculture as a means of development.

Notable Quotes:

“There is a strong need for Agribusiness management training in order to: strengthen the value chain linkeage!”

“The Lagos state, AgricYES programme is centered to graduate 200 youths in each batch to be agric entrepreneurs !”

“Unless we manage our business properly, we will not get funding (whether Agribusiness or not)! “

“We need to be more entrepreneurship in the approach of Agriculture!” - Ndubuisi Ihedigbo.  

“99% of the rice imported rice in Nigeria is parboiled rice and the rice may have been in the stores there for 15years before being shipped down!”  

“The gaps in the agric value chains can best be filled by the use of extension agents who are no longer active in Nigeria!” 

“Running an Agric business in Nigeria is challenging, you are faced with Local, National and International Challenges!”

“There should be fixed prices for Agric products in all the value chain so that the farmer won't feel cheated!” 

“If we don't show the providers of capital that we can return it, we may never get funding“-Dr.Larry Osa-Afiana(Faculty, LBS)  

“Every Nigerian need not be farmers, let's look at where we will play in the Value chain!“

“In Nigeria, you see one investor been the farmer, manager, and marketer“

“Unless attention is made to the market, and its produced at the right price and how people needs it then its not Agricbusiness“ 

“It took 7 months to transport a Flash dryer from Nigeria to Malawi because the custom officials couldn't believe it can be made in Nigeria.’

“Unemployment and Underemployment are the major causes of insecurity!’ 

“Nigeria Should dictate the market as a Major importer of Rice in the world!’-Mr. Kola Adebayo (Dir. African Region, C:AVA Project)

“Management education is essential in Agriculture in Nigeria if we need to create 10million jobs by 2030!”

“If Nigeria there should be a good irrigation system to improve rice farming just like Mali!”

“ In Nigeria urbanisation is slow because the urban areas are crowded!”

“In 2030, the average farm size (Ha/Rural inhabitant) will reduce to 0.5”

“Trends in Land in Nigeria is shrinking, the average farm size is reducing due to urbanisation!“

“Agric is so exciting in Nigeria because we have the good Arable Land, water and Markets for the Agric produce!”

“The solution of the unemployment in Nigeria is Agriculture, unless we are going to create million of jobs now, there will be problem.”

“Nigeria’s unemployment rate is an alarming 60%, half of the population are under the age of 19! Every year we need 4 million jobs in Nigeria!”

“Apapa port is the food basket of Nigeria! We are the highest importer of wheat and rice!”    

“China lifted about 3 times Nigeria's population from poverty, through Agriculture.”  

“China is developed today, 50years ago China has no choice...they suffered Famine, they started Agriculture!”   

“The average wheat farmer is 6 times more than they did 50 years ago, Sadly the Nigerian farmer is still stuck in the past.“

“So far in Nigeria, Agriculture is not yet taken seriously as a business”