Abuja -The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) said it would strengthen and promote investment in the agricultural sector to create wealth and job opportunities for the country.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Mrs Uju Baba, stated this at the commission’s stakeholders’ investment forum for strategic agricultural commodities in Abuja on Wednesday.
The theme of the forum is “ promoting investment in agricultural commodities for sustainable development’’.
According to her, President Muhammadu Buhari in his inaugural speech, identified agriculture as one of the priority sectors of his administration.
“The forum aim is to avail the associations of the various agricultural commodities the opportunity to present project for possible investment promotion and facilitation.
“Agricultural sector contributed over 41 per cent to the gross domestic product of Nigeria and employs around 70 per cent of the workforce,’’ Baba said.
She said the commission would nurture and promote transformational projects put forward by local and international investors.
“The NIPC is ready and willing to assist and collaborate with relevant stakeholders to actualise and achieve our dream of boosting non-oil exports and reduce imports.
“The commission has strategised and prioritised mobilisation of investment into the import-substitution and export-diversification sectors,’’ Baba said.
She noted that the commission focused more on After-Care, to help existing investors in the country to resolve their concerns and expand their businesses.
Baba said that the commission was established to encourage, facilitate, promote and coordinate investments in the country.
She added that the commission had carried out the mandate through one-stop investment centre with relevant departments and stakeholders.
She disclosed that the commission had developed a new strategic framework tagged “NIPC Diamond’’ aimed at “taking Nigeria to a future beyond oil’’.
“The salient features in the strategy cover investment climate, financial valve chain, sectoral and geographic prioritisation, regulatory support and investor aftercare.
“Others are market intelligence, mega projects, national branding and image, and investor-engagement platforms,’’ Baba said.
Mr Abdulkadir Musa, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, said the country would move away from oil to concentrate more on non-oil sector in order to increase its GDP.
Musa, represented by Mrs Omololu Opeewe, Deputy Director, Commodities, in the ministry, said the country needed to harness its agricultural products that had been abandoned.
“ Investors are welcome; we will assist them in any way to ensure that the country harnesses its agricultural products that have been forgotten,’’ he said.
Also, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), said the country’s non-oil export for the year 2014 stood at 2.714 billion dollars.
Awolowo said the figure gave a decrease of 8.62 per cent when compared to 2.970 billion dollars recorded in 2013 but an increase of 5.97 per cent against 2012 performance.
He attributed the fall to disruption in the implementation of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) due to uncertainly in the utilisation of the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificates (NDCC).
Musa said other attributes were high cost of doing business in Nigeria following high cost of borrowing and inadequate infrastructural facilities such as power.
In her speech, Mrs Zaheera Baba-Ari, Managing Director, Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX), said the basic problems associated with agriculture were lack of organisation and organised market place.
Others, she said, were peasant farmers, inappropriate pricing of commodities, lack of storage, access to finance and farmers cooperatives.
Baba-Ari said NCX was a spot exchange point that traded in standardised commodity contracts, also an end to end integrated system of decentralised trading, warehousing, quality certification of commodities, clearing, settlement and delivery.
She said it was established to provide a ready market for disposal of agricultural commodities and to address issues of heavy post harvest-losses associated with poor warehousing, among others.
Baba-Ari said organised markets had boosted agricultural products in many countries.
She called on government to provide incentives and legislation mandating trade on the exchange, to grow Nigerian economy through agriculture.
“Success of the exchange does not depend on ownership structure but on the presence of the necessary infrastructure, supportive government policies and adequate funding,’’ she said. (NAN)