Nigeria’s agri sector sprouts opportunity for women - CNBC Africa

Nigeria’s agri sector sprouts opportunity for women

Western Africa

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Women farmers. PHOTO: Getty Images

“The agriculture sector has been opened up by the transformation agenda for the agriculture sector that the president has been leading since 2011. We have a number of women farmers. In the rural areas women make up sometimes up to 70 per cent, if not more, of the rural farming population, so there are already farmers,” Arunma Oteh, director general of the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission, told CNBC Africa.

“I think what this transformation agenda does is brings an opportunity for them to be involved in the value chain. For example, rice can be grown anywhere in Nigeria. If you’re already involved in rice farming, you can then move up the value chain to rice processing.”

Agriculture has consistently dominated Nigeria’s non-oil sector growth, accounting for over 50 per cent of non-oil earnings.

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Nigeria is also the largest producer of cassava in the world, exporting cassava chips to China and Europe for the processing of ethanol. Oteh added that the many other sub-sectors within agriculture will continue to provide more job and investment opportunities.

(WATCH VIDEO: Nigerian agricultural sector to create 3.5 million jobs by 2015)

Agriculture companies that start lisitng on the country's stock exchange could include an attractive value dimension to their assets and operating profile.

“We also are encouraging listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, because we believe that listing also ensures that your corporate governance is at a particular level. We want these companies to operate well,” Oteh explained.

“Some of the reasons why the predecessor companies didn’t do well were corporate governance issues. From a public interest point of view, it is important that these companies are also listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.”

The stock market will be able to facilitate the accurate pricing of value that a particular company brings, as well as encourage agri-businesses to follow suit.

(READ MORE: Nigeria's capital market a possible funding alternative for agricultural sector)

“The companies that have done well are companies that were very strong and laid the foundation for coming to the market. A number of women have small businesses that have the potential to grow. We believe that having private equity firms, venture capital firms, get involved in these companies is very useful,” Oteh added. 

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