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‘How AgroNigeria’s drive lifts our country’s economy’

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Richard Mark Mbaram, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) AgroNigeria

In this interview with PAULA ESEGHENE, the Chief Executive Officer, AgroNigeria, Mark Mbaram, speaks on how his initiative boosts the country’s economic growth.

The AgroNigeria rice conference is not only a well thought out platform for the convergence of rice value chain players in the country, it is specially packaged to address in a holistic manner, bottlenecks in the value chain in order that the rice sufficiency goal of the country can be actualized.

How did you arrive at the theme for the conference?

Nigeria is just two years away from 2020, which is the stipulated time for the country’s self sufficiency in rice production. Of course, there are recorded successes that can be pointed at in the value chain.

However, stakeholders are in agreement that if this momentum must be sustained, proactive measures must be put in place. It is safe to say that this was what informed the theme: “Rice Sufficiency: A Must.”

In what way has the yearly conference helped agricultural productivity in Nigeria?

The rice conference is actually a precursor to the Feed Nigeria Summit (FNS), which is the flagship convocation of the Nigerian agriculture sector.

The centre of last year’s conference was the homegrown school feeding programme of the Nigerian Government.

This, alongside other issues, were extensively deliberated upon by sectoral players. Recommendations were put together in a communiqué that was presented to the government, as well as private sector players.

What informed the choice of Abuja for this year’s conference?

Last year, the conference was held in Lagos State. This year’s decision for Abuja is largely hinged on the need to move the conference to another central state.

Also, the organizing committee wants it closer to the presidential villa to secure the Vice President’s attendance, as well the Minister of Agriculture.

What should be the expectation of participants in the conference?

Participants should expect a demand-driven approach to addressing constraints along the rice value chain.

This will include inclusive strategies for strengthening the capacity of producers and processors in the value chain, as well as assessment of relevant policies and regulations

What is the role of government in agriculture and in what ways can they help to improve agro productivity in Nigeria?

The role of government in Nigerian agriculture cannot be overemphasized. The agricultural productivity of any country is dependent on the responsiveness of its government to the needs of farmers, particularly smallholders.

Provision of adequate budgetary allocation to the sector, infrastructure, subsidies, quality inputs and so on are ways by which the government can help increase productivity in the sector.

Beyond these, the type of policies and regulatory framework in place will also tell whether the government is serious about agriculture or not.

Who are your sponsors and what were the challenges encountered while organizing this event?

Syngenta, Stallion Group, Olam Group, Afex Commodities Exchange, Nirsal, Notore, Providus Bank, FMARD, AfDB, RIFAN, RIPMAN are sponsors and supporters of the Conference.



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