By Fortune Abang
Abuja – Israel has affirmed its commitment to collaborating with Nigeria on developing agricultural technology and promoting entrepreneurship to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
Mr Shimon Ben-Shoshan, Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, made this known in his address at the opening of the three-day Israel-Nigeria Agrinnovation seminar 2019 which held on Tuesday in Abuja.
The event, organised by the Embassy of Israel in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo began on Dec. 10 and is expected to end on Dec. 13.
Theme of the seminar was “No room for small dreams”.
According to the Israeli envoy, the Nigerian government in its effort to deliver economic growth has developed entrepreneurship initiatives, policies, and programmes to meet the growing need for a more diverse economy.
Ben-Shoshan said, “Specifically in the instance of innovation, this has become more apparent in technology ecosystems thriving in Abuja, Lagos, Adamawa, Edo, and Plateau states.
“Israel, popularly referred to as the ‘Start-up Nations’ is renowned for its vibrant ecosystem of innovation.
“With this, Israel is willing to provide a higher leverage through multi-faceted collaborations that cut across sectors with empowering results.
“The Agrinnovation seminar will focus on impressing the benefit that technology brings to agriculture.
“Israeli experts are eager to provide useful lessons that can be adopted and applied in the Nigerian context.
“It is our belief that technology and entrepreneurship are closely linked and essential in building emerging markets.
“We believe that Agrinnovation will help in bridging the capacity gap in Nigeria’s agriculture industry.”
Speaking in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Sen. Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger-Delta Affairs said that the Agrinnovation concept would strengthen relations between Israel and Nigeria.
“Even if you are a permanent secretary, you are a minister. You should contribute to agricultural development.
“Everybody should be encouraged to have alternative means of income.
“Every person should be involved in agriculture.
“Now they have best food in the world and the best of water. So it is for us to take this challenge and get the best for our population,” Enang said.
In his remarks, Mr Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Tony Elumelu Foundation, an NGO, acknowledged the Agrinnovation intiative, saying it is capable of encouraging young people to tackle problems in agriculture sector.
Elumelu, represented by Mrs Owen Omogiafo, Managing Director of Transcorp Hotels Plc, said that the importance of agriculture to the economy could not be overemphasised.
He said, “If we get it right, the agriculture sector represents Africa’s greatest opportunity … to lift millions out of poverty.
“To achieve this, agriculture will need to move from basic subsistence farming to more productive, efficient, and mechanised operations that leverage technological innovations and the energy drive of our young ones.”
Mr Adamu Nuru, Managing Director of FCMB Plc, commended Israel for its achievement in agriculture and innovations.
He also praised Israel for sharing its successes with Nigeria.
Nuru said, “We believe this will be a catalyst for ground-breaking innovations that will transform the agricultural sector in our country.
“Nigeria has to catch up with the rest of the world and subsequently in terms of agricultural innovation.”