The 2018 African Food & Products Exhibition & Conference (AFPE) themed Non-Oil Exports: Scaling Up Productivity to Meet Global Demand, came to a close on May 26th, 2018. Celebrating its 2nd Edition, the biggest Food and Products Exhibition & Conference was held at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Lagos and attracted SMEs, Start-up business owners, MSMEs, International & local suppliers & distributors of food & beverage products, chain stores, independent sellers, key decision and policy makers from leading Nigerian and American organizations. The two day event presented a viable opportunity for exhibiting companies to grow their sales, showcase their products to a target audience and strike million dollars international deals.
AFPE continues to be a high-quality marketplace for decision makers and end-consumers to network, research and buy new products and services. The 2 Day event promoted the development of trade, commerce, investment and industrial technological relationships between the public and private sectors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United States of America and had in attendance, John Bray, U.S. Consul General, Lagos, Nigeria; Mr. Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director, Bank of Industry; CEOs of leading Nigerian and multinational firms, Captains of Industries, Private Sector Investors, agencies of The United States Mission etc.
The Conference sessions delivered by seasoned professionals focused on SME funding journey, Access to Market, Access to Business Funding, Tapping into the Opportunities in the Export Value Chain and AGOA: A key competitiveness in the US Market.
John Bray called for the modernization of the local economy particularly the agricultural sector to meet Nigeria’s population growth and development. According to him, opportunities abound in all the 36 states in the country to create more businesses in the agricultural sector to provide jobs for more Nigerians.
“While there has been increased human development in Nigeria over the past several years, huge inequalities still persist between men and women in the country.
“In many areas, particularly the agricultural sector, low productivity and lack of investment as well as limited or absence of infrastructure hold back economic development,” he said.
Bray, quoting a 2015 African Development Bank (AfDB) report, said in the next 15 years, more than 370 million youths, including those in Nigeria would enter Africa’s labor market.
Bray, represented by Jude Akhidenor, Regional Agricultural Counselor in the Embassy, noted that developing and modernizing the agricultural sector should be a priority for the Nigerian Government, private sectors and other stakeholders.
Mr. Olukayode Pitan represented by Mr. Waheed Olagunju, Executive Director, Small and Medium Enterprises, Bank of Industry said before the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity, the Agric sector contributed about 65 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It was also the major source of revenue and jobs.
Waheed said that though the value of Nigeria’s agric export appreciated at over $470 million (about N170 billion), this was less than nine percent of its potential. According to him, the potential could have been higher if the high agric export growth rate of the 1960s was sustained.
With Agric as one of the six sectors identified for growth in the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP), there was need to scale up productivity to help Nigeria become a leading player in both the local and international agric export market.
On how Nigeria can drive economic diversification and boost productivity in the agric sector, Waheed stressed the need to embark on agricultural industrialization and implement innovative financial models that would cater for the needs of both low-income farmers and high-income processors.
While insisting that there is a need to start looking critically at the whole agric value chain, he said several initiatives had been introduced to boost the agri-business sector of the economy including the Agriculture Promotion Policy (The Green Alternative)
The NACC President, Olabintan Famutimi said the food and products exhibition would promote the development of trade, commerce and capacity of ingenious businesses.
He said the Chamber will continue to remind all stakeholders of the need to promote the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and apply international best practices and other relevant frameworks in their operations.
Famutimi pledged the commitment of the Chamber to the full implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).