African and European diplomats on Wednesday lauded Nigeria’s agriculture sector for its role in pulling the country out of recession.
They gave their commendations at the ongoing 4th International Agro-Food Fair, taking place in Lagos.
According to Ibi Ikpoki, representing the EU trade delegation, the Nigeria agriculture sector played a huge role in the country’s exit from recession.
“The Nigerian agricultural sector has also played a crucial role in job creation, women and youth empowerment and contributed immensely to poverty alleviation.
“Therefore, I am delighted today that agriculture in Nigeria is gradually evolving from being seen as a mere activity to a business, moving primary production to value addition.
“This is why this annual exhibition continues to be relevant for the development of the agri-business and packaging sectors among others.”
Mr Ikpoki also congratulated the Nigerian government for the improvement in the ease of doing business in the country.
Citing figures from the EU Trade Desk, he said that total EU trade in Nigeria increased by 27 per cent from 19.9 billion Euros in 2016 to 25.3 billion Euros in 2017.
“This trade increase mirrors the improvements in Nigeria’s external trade as a country that exited recession in 2017.
“Permit me to use this opportunity to congratulate the Nigerian authorities for some notable feats experienced in 2017, including the improvement in ease of doing business.
“On ranking, we saw Nigeria jump 24 places from 169 to 145 and also emerged one of the topmost improved 10 countries.
Mr Ikpoki also spoke on the EU’s increasing investments in Nigeria, in spite of the bureaucratic bottlenecks in doing business in the West African country.
The Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Robert Petri, said also that the innovation Dutch companies were exhibiting at the fair would help boost agriculture processes in Nigeria.
“The Netherlands has innovative solutions for agriculture and for tackling high population growth and climate change such as in Nigeria.
Also speaking, the French Consul, Laurent Polonceaux, said his country’s partnership with Nigeria on agriculture had resulted in the participation of 50 French companies at the fair.
The Commercial Counsellor to the Austrian Embassy in Nigeria, Nella Hengstler, commended the organisers of the fair, noting that Africa was the new hub for Agro-food fairs.
“So, despite the visa wahala (challenge) and all the travel issues, I think it makes sense to come here and exhibit our products in Africa.”
Similarly, the Acting High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, said that the fair offered great opportunities to Africa and Nigeria.
“It’s a great opportunity for Africa and Nigeria. You realise the statement made by the president that Nigeria will not have oil forever.
The Agro-food fair is being held for the fourth time in Nigeria with countries like China, Turkey and some Nigerian agriculture entrepreneurs exhibiting their produce at the fair.
Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the fair reported that over 80 exhibitors and about 1,000 participants were attending the fair.