The vice president was represented by Amb. Mariam Katagum, the Minister of state for Industry, Trade and Investment.
He said the conference was timely as it would identify and map out strategies for developing the country’s commodities market as a major driver for economic diversification.
According to him, government is working toward establishing agricultural industrial parks across the six geopolitical zones with the aim of creating jobs, ensuring food security and harnessing comparative advantage in the geopolitical zones.
“There are opportunities in agriculture production, storage, standardisation, financing, pricing, risks management and export.
“The capital market has a big role to play in all of these.
“This conference, therefore, underscores our readiness to work together as partners and take our commodities market to the next level. It is set to pave way for the development of a thriving commodities ecosystem in Nigeria.
“On our part as government, we should work to ensure that the outcomes of this conference are duly incorporated into our policies going forward, especially as we work towards developing successful master plan of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the Vision 2020,’’ he said.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said that more work needed to be done to ensure that the country’s production and export base became more robust and less vulnerable to external shots.
Ahmed said that the agricultural sector employed about 40 per cent of the country’s labour force and accounted for 22 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at 2019.
“Interestingly, the unfolding events of the past few weeks like coronavirus pandemic and the oil price war have further reinforced our resolve to diversify our economy.
“In the last five years, the agriculture sector has recorded positive growth rate higher than that of the entire economy.
“What we have to do is to drive volumes in markets like the commodity market so that we have more visibility of the trade that takes place in our economy.
“It is a reality call for us that we must develop a non-oil attitude in everything we do,’’ she said.
Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Capital Market, said the conference was an avenue to rub minds and cross-fertilise ideas on how to harness the commodities trading ecosystem for the purpose of diversifying the economy.
Amosun regretted that financial inclusion of smallholder farmers who produced most of the traded commodities was the major impediment toward having a vibrant commodities market.
He said the committee was working to strengthen, reposition and boost the nation’s capital market to continue to serve as gateway to economic development.
“These farmers need to be organised into cooperatives and also encourage them to become members of the exchange if truly we are keen on diversifying our economy through commodity trading.
“The senate will ensure that necessary legislations by way of bills and enabling laws are enacted towards making farmers to have easy access to credit facilities so that they can upscale their farming activities thereby, enhancing commodities trading.
“There is also need to increase public awareness and education for the commodities market,’’ he explained.
Rep. Babangida Ibrahim, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and other Institutions, said the conference would enable them look at beneficial ways of partnering to ensure effective commodities trading ecosystem for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Ms Mary Uduk, the Acting Director-General of SEC, said the commission had been implementing its 10-year-capital market master plan with the aim of making the country’s market one of the world’s deepest as well as the largest in Africa by 2025.
“Nigeria is well endowed with agricultural, metals and energy commodities, our potential in this areas are yet to be realised.
“Capital market can be used as an avenue to unlock these potential and diversify the economy while providing jobs, creating jobs and contribute to government revenue.
“We believe that if we can develop and institutionalise a vibrant commodities ecosystem in Nigeria, we can substantially address problems of lack of storage, poor-pricing, low standardisation and low foreign exchange earnings affecting our agriculture and other commodities sub-sector,’’ she said.
The two-day conference attracted financial and capital market stakeholders across the country.