The 2013 Forbes African of the Year urged young Africans to see agriculture as a business, rather than a development tool and predicted the advent of a young, prosperous middle class across the continent.
Adesina’s comments came at the launch of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase 1 (ATASP-1) in Abuja, a scheme aimed at creating a new generation of agricultural entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has agreed to contribute US$170mn to the initiative, which will be rolled out in Enugu, Anambra, Niger, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kano and Jigawa States, and will aim to boost annual food crop yields by 20,000 metric tonnes (mt) as well as creating around 200,000 new jobs.
“The engine of growth with the greatest power to spur Africa into global value chains and create jobs for inclusive growth is agriculture,” said Adesina. “Africa’s wealth is more than petroleum. It is now time to unlock Africa’s soil wealth via agriculture.”
The minister said that agricultural infrastructure would be clustered into Staple Crops Processing Zones (SCPZs), in which the government would increase the availability of water, electricity, roads and fuel supplies.
Private sector agribusinesses will be provided with incentives to establish food-processing companies in rural areas, he added, in a move aimed at increasing the value of Nigeria’s agricultural produce.
Adesina also claimed the agricultural insurance markets will be reformed with a view to allowing greater participation of private sector insurance companies, while the National Agricultural Insurance Company (NAIC) will introduce new schemes aimed at providing affordable crop insurance to five million farmers.