President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has called on the country to take agriculture more seriously as he emphasised that agriculture was the best option to be free from the economic challenges confronting the nation.
He revealed today at the opening ceremony of the Katsina State Economic and Investment Summit with the theme ‘Unlocking Investment Potentials for Sustainable Development’ that “Brazil has 350 billion dollar in reserves of which 80 per cent of that money is contributed by Agriculture”.
He spoke further: “I think it’s a lifetime opportunity which God has given to us by repositioning things while oil has gone down. It is not a curse; it is for us to diversify the economy. We have been relying on oil and I think oil is very unreliable.
“When you look at it, despite the downturn of various economic activities in the whole world, the only things that have actually not gone down are agricultural products.
“Rice, wheat, sugar have not gone down in price, so we should make sure that we use this opportunity which God has given us – arable land.
“Both us and Brazil, we have the same quality of land and Brazil today is number one in sugar, soybean, poultry and in a lot of things. So I think we should copy that.”
He stressed that the decision to open up Katsina State to investors was long overdue as the state has been behind other states economically. He commended the State Governor for the initiative.
“I think the only way for Katsina State to catch up is to concentrate on Agriculture,” he added.
He used the occasion make the see the need to create an enabling environment which he said was germane to attract investors. “Investors normally do not need to be told. You don’t need to invite anybody, if they see a conducive environment for investment, they will actually gate-crash even if they are not invited.”
The business mogul identified five steps that need to be taken for potential investors to see an enabling environment. “One is to identify the sectors of the economy where the state has a comparative advantage, and develop information and data which will enable investors evaluate opportunities in these sectors.
“Publish clear legal and regulatory terms and clear incentives to guarantee profitability for investors. Provide an incumbent land and reasonable supporting infrastructure and let investors do the rest. Ensure that all your officials buy in to the vision, (because) nothing will discourage investors more than uncooperative and hostile public officials”.
“The final piece of advice is to start with your local investors or those who are already here with you. If they are happy and making good (revenue), they will definitely invest more and the foreigners will cue in. You don’t need anybody to come and bring in foreign direct investment (FDI). FDI always follows local direct investment,” he concluded.