Sterling Bank Plc, Nigeria's leading commercial bank, has announced that this year’s Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA) will hold from September 23rd to 24th, 2020, with the theme “Fast Forward Agriculture: Exploiting The Next Revolution.”
The statement by the bank also announced Mastercard Foundation, Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and IDH – the sustainable trade initiative as headline sponsors for the third edition of the Summit. Other partners confirmed to be supporting this year’s event include Flour Mills Nigeria PLC., NIRSAL and Nourishing Africa.
The emergence of Mastercard Foundation and IDH as headline sponsors of this year’s is indicative of significant strides in providing access to capital for women, small and medium scale enterprises as well as smallholder farmers in the country as enunciated in last year’s post summit communique. Both organizations are strong advocates for the professionalization of the agricultural sector and the diversification of rural economies through improved access to a range of appropriate and sustainable financial and technical services.
More than 2,500 delegates, financiers, entrepreneurs, government functionaries and agribusiness practitioners drawn from across the African continent, Asia, Europe and North America participated at the 2019 edition of the Summit.
Yemi Odubiyi, Executive Director, Corporate and Investment Banking, Sterling Bank, remarked that this year's edition would be a hybrid event – online and physical – due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic and the need to adhere to health management protocols laid down by authorities.
Odubiyi said the event was part of the bank’s commitment to the critical sectors of the Nigerian economy under its well thought-out and impact-based HEART initiative. Agriculture is one of the five sectors the bank is concentrating investment in. The other sectors are Health, Education, Renewable Energy and Transportation.
The Executive Director added that the physical studios will be stationed in Abuja and Lagos for selected persons – speakers and panellists – noting that participants are required to register online via the summit's official website: https://agricsummit.org/.
Also speaking, Bukola Awosanya, Group Head, Agric and Solid Mineral Finance for the bank, explained that aside financing opportunities for stakeholders, the bank would also use the summit to facilitate conversations around key areas in the sector.
She observed that “The ongoing global pandemic has caused job losses across various sectors of the Nigerian economy – agribusiness inclusive. With these job losses have come a drop in overall productivity and capacity for effective demand.” She also noted that “the control measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus in the country, such as restricted movement across key states and border closures have also contributed to slow growth in the agribusiness sector by resulting in inaccessibility of inputs and raw materials key for production. These, amongst others, are pertinent issues that can further reduce productivity in the agribusiness sector, if not quickly addressed.”
Awosanya said that this year’s summit will seek to enable collaboration between stakeholders to help identify and deliver actionable steps to revolutionise Nigeria’s and sub-Saharan Africa’s agri-business industries for sustained long-term growth after the pandemic. The summit will also have a virtual deal room, dedicated to bringing together business owners seeking capital and investors seeking opportunities to help facilitate sizeable investments that can drive increased output across the agri-business value chain.
Past editions of Agriculture Summit Africa have provided a platform for multi-disciplinary discussions on pervasive issues and practical solutions that would drive an integrated approach for food security in Africa, while exploring inclusive agricultural commodity trade agenda that can boost intra-African trade. It also helped to unveil current agricultural trends, innovations and opportunities for private and public-sector investment and participation across the continent.