The United States Consul General in Lagos, Mr. John F. Bray, has urged Nigeria to leverage on its vast agricultural potential to create wealth and boost its economy.
Bray, made the remark in Lagos, at the African Food and Products Exhibition (AFPE) tagged: “Sustainability and Innovation: Pathway to Business Success for SMEs’’ which was organised by the Nigeria-American Chamber of Commerce and industry.
Bray, who was represented by the Counselor, US Commercial Service, Brent Omdahl, said the world knew Nigeria as the oil power house of West Africa and not as an agriculture rich nation, adding that the narrative must change.
”The task before Nigeria is to show the world its enormous potential in the agricultural space in the world. Nigeria needs to use agriculture to generate more wealth, create employment and grow its economy, the US is doing that and Nigeria can do that too.
“In the next 50 years, the world is waiting for a product that would be known all around the world as a signature of innovation from the agricultural value chain in Nigeria.
“Would it be shea butter? tiger nut? cashew or palm oil? Nigeria has the comparative advantage in these products and it should be explored the same way America explored the potential in Cranberry to boost the American economy and grow more wealth,” he said.
Earlier, the National President of the Nigerian-American chamber of commerce and industry, (NACC) Mr. Oluwatoyin Akomolafe, noted that the chamber sought to utilise AFPE to improve profitability and sustainable global competitiveness for Nigerian SMEs.
Hence, he stressed the need for diversification which he said was precisely where the SMEs sustainability and innovation play their role in contributing to economic prosperity.
Akomolafe, noted that innovation was crucial to achieving a strong organisational structure and robust economic growth, adding that Nigeria’s futuristic economic growth could not be sustained with oil revenue alone but continued investment and attractive policies to aid growth of SME’s.
Also commenting at the AFPE Exhibition, Managing Director and CEO, Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, said SME’s are the bedrock of economies in the world. He noted that in order to attain sustainable, there was need to boost employment, reduce poverty and improve the welfare of the citizenry.
Abubakar, who was represented by Mr. Shina Atilola, the Divisional Head of Retail and Consumer Banking, maintained that any initiative or policy that does not lead to employment creation would not catalyse development and economic growth.
According to him, Sterling Bank was using innovation to gear up and facilitate seamless and quick access to finance.
According to him, many SMEs were using innovation to drive their businesses, while expressing optimism that Nigerian businesses would in the nearest future proffer solutions to the world’s food challenge.