The Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) Director General Dr Debo Akande, on Tuesday at the Oyo Agribusiness Summit 2021, extolled the State’s agribusiness sector as Nigeria’s most promising investment destination brimming with opportunities that offer the potential for unmatched returns.
In his speech at the opening session of the Summit held from 25 to 27 October at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Dr Akande underscored Oyo State’s unrivalled mix of investment opportunities, agribusiness-enabling infrastructure, strategic location and government-backed incentives as potent leverage for investors looking to exploit Africa’s projected $1 trillion agribusiness market over the next decade.
“The opportunities are myriad and in Oyo State, investors will find the enabling infrastructure, support and incentives required to exploit them,” Dr Akande said.
The Oyo Agribusiness Summit 2021 organised by OYSADA with the theme “Grow Oyo: Invest in Agriculture” served to showcase transformative investment opportunities across the agribusiness sector of Oyo State, many of which hold the potential to displace crude oil as Nigeria’s main foreign exchange earner.
The maiden edition of the Summit featured a three-day agribusiness exhibition, a two-day conference, cocktail evening and a dinner night.
The event was attended by many leading figures from the public and private sectors including His Excellency Engr. Seyi Makinde, Executive Governor of Oyo State; His Excellency John Donnelly, the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria; Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of IITA and Sonia Darracq, French Embassy Regional Counsellor for Agriculture.
Also attending were Adebise Ademola, CEO of WEMA Bank; Dr. Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan, First Bank GMD and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the Africa Development Bank who was represented by Dr. Martin Fregene, AfDB’s Director of agriculture and agro-industry.
The Ambassador-designate of France to Nigeria, Her Excellency, Emmanuelle Blatmann and Tony O. Elumelu, Chairman Heirs Holding, participated virtually.
Dr Akande took the opportunity to highlight the economic comparative advantage that makes Oyo State a compelling investment destination.
“We have the land: over 2.2 million hectares of land of which eighty-five per cent is arable and suitable for large-scale farming to meet the needs of a growing population and burgeoning middle class,” Dr Akande said.
“We have the water resources: 5+ beautiful perennial rivers, 15+ man-made lakes and over 20 dams suitable for year-round irrigation, fisheries and industrial aquaculture which is the fastest-growing segment of Nigeria’s agriculture industry.
“We have the numbers: a ready-made market and labour pool of eight million, vibrant, talented, industrious people, and our strategic location at the heart of Nigeria’s agribusiness corridor provides easy access to millions of consumers nationwide, in West Africa and globally.
“This may well sound like a boast,” Dr. Akande remarked, “but it really is a fact: there is no other state in Nigeria, with the variety of options, business-enabling infrastructure, policies, incentives and reservoirs of investment opportunities comparable to Oyo State.”
Dr. Akande also highlighted Governor Makinde’s vision and ongoing efforts to transform Oyo State to become the Agribusiness Hub of Nigeria.
“For us in Oyo State, our direction is clear. We will leverage our agricultural comparative advantage, talented workforce and strategic location as a pathway to millions of consumers in domestic and regional markets to become sub-Saharan Africa’s number one Agribusiness Hub,” Dr Akande said.
“That is why the Oyo State Government under the leadership of His Excellency, Engineer Seyi Makinde, has embarked on a vigorous course of soft and hard infrastructure development to boost the investment profile of the state and enhance the competitiveness of our agribusiness sector.
“These ultra-secure, game-changing industrial infrastructures will offer dedicated crop production, livestock ranching and processing facilities, and combine different agro-production chains, thus maximizing operational synergies, economies of scale, and income generation activities for investors and host communities,” Dr Akande revealed.
Dr. Akande called on investors to explore the wealth of opportunities in the State’s agribusiness sector stressing that OYSADA stands ready to partner with willing investors. “Oyo State is open for business and OYSADA stands with arms outstretched, willing, ready and eager to provide every kind of support to investors and partners to tap into the enormous investment opportunities in our agribusiness sector.”
In his remarks, Governor Makinde reiterated his administration’s resolve to drive economic growth and development in Oyo State through agribusiness.
“Our administration is committed to transforming Oyo State from a sleeping agrarian giant into a thriving agribusiness hub,” the Governor said.
“We are constructing and rehabilitating a number of roads including 1,200km rural roads through the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) to improve agro-logistics and provide access to markets.”
Governor Makinde also delivered a presentation highlighting investment opportunities in several value chains including Commercial Crops and Livestock Production, Seed Development, Poultry/Livestock Feeds, Development of Agribusiness Industrial Hubs, Mechanisation, Agro-logistics, ICT-related Agriculture, Agribusiness Advisory Services, Crop Aggregation and Warehousing and Farm-to-plate services.
The Oyo State Governor also made a commitment to provide a stable tax regime for investors.
“Under this administration, We have no plans of increasing taxes for the foreseeable future,” Governor Makinde assured. “Our pledge: No new taxes. No multiple taxations.
“Our doors are open. Share your ideas with us and we will do our part to create an enabling environment for you to thrive.”
In his keynote address, IITA Director General Dr. Nteranya Sanginga lauded the Oyo State Government for adopting and extending the Start Them Early Project (IITA) to all geopolitical zones of the State. Dr. Sanginga remarked that widespread adoption of the STEP initiative will catalyse a critical mass of young agropreneurs who can save the country over $11 billion through import substitution, adding that Nigeria could create up to a million jobs annually through agribusiness.
In his remarks, Mr Elumelu agreed that Oyo State is well-positioned to be a leading agribusiness hub on the continent. “Oyo State should be for Africa, the beacon and leading entity for Agriculture,” he said.
Australian High Commissioner Donnelly spoke in optimistic terms too: “Oyo State does have a comparative advantage in agriculture and agribusiness,” he said. “Its diverse agricultural production across many crops and livestock and farming population of about 450,000 farming families delivering at scale and Ibadan being home to several leading agriculture centres in Nigeria.”
The AfDB’s Dr Fregene harped on key steps necessary to actualise the State’s vision of becoming sub-Saharan Africa’s premier hub. He said only through competitive agriculture, clustering stakeholders, making the state agricultural sector attractive to other nations, building capacity in the sector and ensuring adaptation to climate change can Oyo State successfully transform its agricultural landscape.
WEMA bank CEO Adebise Ademola gave voice to his vision for the Summit. “The Oyo Agribusiness Summit 2021 is only the beginning of a process. The start of a journey that will hopefully lead us towards more solid foundations, greater excellence & innovation, more equity & inclusion and heighten the interaction between investors, producers and the agribusinesses.”