President Goodluck Jonathan, US philanthropist Bill Gates and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose roles in the development of agriculture now and in the past have been commendable are to receive awards to honour and recognise their contributions at the first Pan West African Agricultural/Food exhibition.
The organisers of the forth-coming expo remarked that any activity geared towards the transformation of the economy, especially the agricultural sector, needs to be encouraged in order to attract and sustain more focus on agriculture.
The organisers said that they have concluded arrangements for the expo to bring together all stakeholders in agricultural business for further development of the sector.
Other award nominees include Songhai farms Limited, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
The list also includes the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akin Adesina, some research institutes, some state Governors, and various rural farmer organisations/cooperatives.
According to the Chairman of the organising company 151 Products Ltd, and immediate past Chairman Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, “time has come to acknowledge the contributions of individuals and organisations towards the revolutionisation of the agriculture in West Africa, especially those who have keyed into the economic transformational agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan.”
He further said: “It is noteworthy that over the years the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has done so much in the area of support for agricultural research and crop technology, through funding for several research institutes. They have shown an uncommon concern for food security and agricultural development, not only in Nigeria, but the entire West African region”.
A doyen of agriculture business in Nigeria, Alhaji Yakubu Abdullahi, concurred and added that “for the first time, an Agriculture Minister in the person of Dr. Akin Adesina, working in partnership with other stakeholders has taken the drive for agricultural development to the next level, and recorded significant successes.”
He also noted that the CBN Governor Sanusi, who has introduced innovativeness to agricultural finance in preparedness to funding the agric value chain via mobilisation and motivation of banks, has also done very well.
The organisers also listed ex-President Obasanjo, who has not only preached agricultural development but has consistently over the years been a keen investor in agriculture, and demonstrated passion for its development.
Other notable nominees for the unique award include some States, Corporate Chief executives, IITA, Governor Murtala Nyako, Songhai Farms, the National Root Crop Research Institute Umudike amongst others.
Also speaking on the significance of the awards, Mr. Ugo Nwabuisi, noted that the innovation of the agriculture award came about as a tool to impact the further development of agriculture and should be embraced by well meaning stakeholders, while urging government to also embrace and encourage the organisers.
He said that by acknowledging outstanding efforts for agricultural development, more successes will be recorded in the years ahead. “As we journey towards food security and national economic transformation, this agric expo will definitely impact standards of agricultural delivery”, he said.