The Paris International Agricultural Show (PIAS) has come and gone but the memories and the impact of the summit cannot easily wane.
This is because as the world battles the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, economies of the world currently battling to revive in various regions of the world must find solace in agriculture.
Thankfully the summit held and ideas were shared ever before the global lockdown and such ideas and lessons learnt were very much necessary as countries prepare to fully unlock their economies.
President Emmanuel Macron of France is working tirelessly on improving the relationship between France and Africa with special focus on Nigeria. Following up on the promise of the French President during his meeting with critical stake holders in Commerce, Agriculture and Industry during his visit to Nigeria in 2018, new opportunities in the areas of agricultural development and food chain improvement have been thrown open.
Numerous opportunities in agricultural development are begging for attention of business men, farmers, investors and industrialists. Also as a follow up to the president’s visit, the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Mr. Jerome Pasquier had invited some state governors in Nigeria through the Nigerian Ambassador to France, Dr. (Mrs.) Modupe Enitan Irele to the Paris International Agricultural Show which held between 22nd February and 1st March2020 at the Paris Expo-Porte de Versailles, France.
The Paris International Agricultural Show is one of the world’s largest agricultural shows that offered a unique opportunity for the Nigerian delegation in attendance. The event enabled participants to network in the areas of building partnership with stakeholders in agricultural world, cutting-edge innovations, etc.
Digital technologies were seen driving a number of developments, younger people are increasingly well-trained and the organic sector is doing very great. Nigeria delegation to the event cuts across government officials, private business owners, heads of academic institutions and young agriculture entrepreneurs.
On the side of the Nigerian government were Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Commissioners of Agriculture from Oyo, Ondo, Rivers, Abia, Benue and Nasarawa States.
Leading the private sector group was the Managing Director, Edgefield Partners, Prince Gboyega Isiaka while Rinllandded Nigeria Limited through its Chairman, Anrinle Ahmed Adekunle coordinated Nigeria’s private group and their needs from Nigeria and that of their private business counterparts in France.
The event attracted over 650,000 visitors, more than a thousand exhibitors and 32,000 agricultural professionals and experts sharing experience on the strength and identity of French farming world.
*Nigerian team with French Agricultural Councillor, Dr.Sonia Daracq
Marrying French agricultural opportunities with Nigeria agricultural potentials will certainly yield unprecedented positive results in agricultural trades with both countries benefiting tremendously.
Nigeria is currently moving in the direction of diversifying her economy in the light of dwindling oil revenue. There are many options for diversification but agriculture seems a quick and sure way to optimise return on investment on a sustainable basis due to agriculture’s potentials for wealth creation.
Agriculture accounts for about two-thirds of Nigeria’s employment both directly and indirectly employing 70% of the nation’s population and contributing at least 22% of the country’s gross domestic product. The agro-ecological zones vary from rain forest, mangrove swamp, derived savannah, guinea savannah, Sudan savannah to Sahel savannah. The rain distribution gives the environmental belt two major seasons; the rainy and dry seasons with mean maximum temperature range from 25-32 degree Celsius in the southern part to 33-39 degree Celsius in the northern part of our country.
Despite all advantages in the direction, agriculture remains a major practice at subsistence level with little value addition accruing to the sector. Nigeria mainly provides raw agricultural commodities to the world markets rather than being involved in processing /value addition chain.
*Benue State Gov. Ortom with a Nigerian delegate, Ahmed Anrinle at the event
The government provides, on annual basis, a sizeable proportion of the national budget to support agricultural production. Inputs such as seeds and fertilizers are also provided at highly subsidized rates.
Sadly however, little attention is deployed to the area of value chain improvement. The primary agricultural products are important. The crops and livestock must however reach the final consumers. The value chain has intrinsic potential to generate value addition and employment opportunities.
With the devastating effects of covid-19 on global economy, it is very important for agropreneurs, government and especially those who participated at the 2020 edition of the show to localize the ideas generated and the opportunities created at the eye-opening Paris event. Agropreneurs should further seek partnerships, collaboration, and technical supports as available on the desk of Regional Agricultural Councillor, Benin, Cameroun, Ghana, Niger, Togo and Nigeria, Mrs. Sonia Darracq, Embassy of France, Lagos.
In 2019 alone, France imported direct agricultural produce worth 573,633,193 Euro from Benin, Cote d’lvoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. With great agricultural potential of Nigeria, we can do more with France than all of Francophone countries combined. The Nigerian government has good agriculture policies and incentives desired to attract agropreneurs, ensure income tax relief, zero import duty tariffs on importation of agricultural equipment & agro-processing equipment, agricultural credit guarantee scheme which is up to 75% all of these are available for local and foreign investors.
The rich arable land across the country is second to none in West Africa sub-region and this includes 3.14 million hectares of irrigable land, and a predictable weather condition that supports all-year-round agricultural activities with known and mapped out soil characteristics across the country to guide crop cultivation, supportive government policies that are geared towards encouraging mechanized farming and agriculture business.
With all of these advantages for agricultural business opportunities especially for Nigerian teaming youth who may have chosen to take their destiny in their hands, the time is now to take on the huge demand gap between supply of agricultural produce and industrial activities on the one hand and taking advantage of the promising cooperation between Nigeria and France, to thrive in the post COVID-19 era.
ANRINLE AHMED ADEKUNLE
Chairman, Rinllandded Group
President, Association of Tourism, Travel Agents and Hospitality Business Owners of Nigeria (ATTAHBON)