Ndidi Nwuneli, founder of Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism (LEAP) Africa, has advised Nigerians to key into the vast opportunities that abound in agriculture.
Nwuneli spoke during the weekend at “Exploit 2018,” a small and medium enterprise (SME) focused empowerment programme organised by Salem International Christian Center (SICC) in Lagos.
According to her, Nigerians tend to “box themselves in one corner” when it comes to agriculture, leaving the market for multinational companies to take over.
“When people think about agriculture they think about farming. Most of us should not go back to the farms. That is not your core competency,” she said.
“Agriculture is not just farming… agriculture is everything along the value chain- technology, financing. But the biggest value is around processing and value addition.
“For example, it is not worth it to just grow cassava and sell it. But if you make it into high-grade cassava starch, people will be banging down your door trying to get it.
“Cassava is now used to make beer, cereal and so many things. Even most of our pharmaceutical products are being made with high-grade cassava flour and yet when we think about cassava flour we think about garri.”
She said many multinational companies are “paying a premium” to come into the Nigerian market which according to her is “projected to hit 450 million by 2050” in terms of population.
“Every company is trying to come into Nigeria in a big way and they are paying a premium to enter and most of us are trying to leave,” she said.
“There is a disconnect somewhere. What can they see that we cannot see?
“We need to change our mindset because with agriculture it really is about everything associated with the clothes we wear which is usually cotton, to the food we eat to the bags and shoes we wear to the fabric on our furniture to the paint on our walls to the soap we use.
“So, there is so much opportunity in every nook and cranny of agriculture around inputs, around extension that we have not developed.”