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  • Experts explore potentials in agric value chain

    Dec 31st, 2017

    One sector that needs adequate attention is the agric-food value chain. It actually links farmers, processers, marketers and the retailers together creating jobs and putting food on the table for many. Interestingly, this was the focal point at the recent conference organised by AWEP (African Women Entrepreneurship Program) in Lagos.One of the focal persons at the event, Ify Osineme who talked about the organisations mission and some of the achievements over the years, said more attention is shifting to adoption of made in Nigerian goods as well as efforts aimed at the export market. “It is also very important for our women to plug into the agric value chain.”According to the immediate past president, Hajia Zainab Jaji, getting the right data and monitoring the statistics is very important. She took time to talk about the impact the organisation has had in the different sectors of the society. “In Nigeria about 43 per cent of women are entrepreneurs, in the US you have ten per cent and so you can see that our women are there. Our focus is on creating a sustainable team and take steps to move out of the recession. What we need is innovation, technology, investing more in agriculture and the ability to sustain our economic growth.”Expatiating, Jaji said, the green gold project which has spurred our women to do more. “We also had the first African fashion Expo in Mauritius, a Cairo meeting for buyers and collaboration in Maami for honey, leather goods and Spices. In addition, we also had a SMEDAN sponsored trip to China. At the local level, we have also partnered with organisations like NEPC, Raw Materials Testing Research and Development Council, Sterling Bank, US Embassy.” For the representative of the DG and Minister, Dr Friday Okey there are so many opportunities for female entrepreneurs. “Recently, a survey was done by SMEDAN that women’s ownership in business is about42 per cent and SME’s shows only 21.2 per cent. A lot of work is required to mainstream what we have in micro to small. We need to see more access to the markets. In India, women in self employment have their own bank and gives loans to members. . However, goods must meet standards; they must be goods that have added value.” For Ambassador Folake Marcus Bello, the major problem with products from Nigeria has a lot to do with quality.“As an entrepreneur, we must decide that you are going to make it right. It is essential that we get our packaging and your product right. I met Mrs. Hilary Clinton, when she came to Zambia as an ambassador. Then she said that a lot of African women are hard working but the packaging is wrong. There is so much talent in Nigeria but we keep underrating ourselves by not reaching out”. In addition, we should go for small profits and stop being greedy.”For Mary Ade Fosudo, who represented Chief Olabintan Farotimi, the President of the Nigerian /American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), there is need for diversification and for more women to take charge of the growth. “More women and girls now have opportunities to leverage on their innovation all over the world. Sadly, in Africa, there is little data.Gender inequality is costing 95 billion a year and Africa loses 6 per cent of its GDP every year. When women entrepreneurs are supported, the economy would grow.”Mrs. Obi, the representative of the DG of the Raw Materials and Research testing Council , Dr Hussein Idoko shed light on some of its 13 flagships projects and how entrepreneurs can work with the standard of AGOA market.“We are the first organisation that invested in cashew in the University of Kogi state and we developed quality cashew nuts. It is important to work with synergy and get relevant information about products. For instance, the shea butter from the 16 belts of the country differ because of the ecological and environmental reasons.”