If there was any germane platform for all stakeholders in brand Nigeria to raise the level of national discourse that can stir up opportunities for the emergence of mega brands along the country’s agriculture value chain, the 2020 Brand journalist Conference was a perfect example.
The event which took place recently at the luscious ambience of Sojourner By Genesis Hotel, GRA Ikeja, Lagos was moderated by one of Nigeria’s most cerebral brand analysts, Kayode Olagesin who is also the Managing Director/CEO, TownCriers Ltd.
The theme for this year’s conference was Consolidating Nigeria’s Agricultural Revolution: Challenges, Opportunities and Lessons.
Welcoming guests, members of the association and all other attendees to the conference, the Chairman, Brand Journalists Association Of Nigeria (BJAN), Mr Princewill Ekwujuru explained that the body decided to shift slightly from core issues in the world of brands and marketing to an area the association felt it can stir up the possibility of jump-starting the much desired industrialization Nigeria needs, for her economic development, especially in this times of recession.
In Ekujuru’s words, “Our focus on Agriculture this year is motivated by the passion to deepen discussions in an area we believe can extensively provide answers to the endless calls for the diversification of our economy and create big brands across all touch-points of its long value chain.
“It is our belief that at the end of this conference, we will generate germane ideas that economic planners, both at the state and national levels, can draw from, to push brand Nigeria out of the current economic recession to a higher level”.
From the line up of speakers and discussants, it was obvious that the association assembled for the conference, a crack team of experts that effectively brainstormed on the imperatives in developing a very vibrant and modern agricultural sector, utilizing various techniques in value chain development to build agriculture infrastructure and create big brands that can stand as pillars in Nigeria’s economic development.
Speakers lined up for the event included President, Organization of Technology Advancement of Cold Chains, West Africa (OTACCWA) Mr Tunde Okoya who presented the main paper.
Other speakers were the National Deputy President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr Segun Atho, the Senior Special Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture on Communication, Mr Richard Mark Mbaram, as well as the President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Lagos, Otunba Femi Oke.
In his paper, Tunde Okoya, dwelt extensively on developing a blueprint for a national cold chain in Nigeria as a key strategy to consolidate the expansion and growth of agriculture in the country.
He explained that his association, OTACCWA was established in June 2018 with the assistance of Global Alliance for improved nutrition, (GAIN) and the Swiss Foundation. GAIN , he explained, was set up at a United Nations meeting and the main focus is to help reduce post-harvest loss and to improve nutrition.
In Okoya’s words. “According to FAO, post-harvest loss of many agric product in Nigeria could be as high as 50% so invariably, a lot of production by our farmer goes into waste along the value chain and that cannot be a very productive way for any country. So, the result of this is poor earnings for the farmers, poor nutrition for the children, and poor hygiene for the country. Nigeria is ranked 98 out of 107 countries in the global hunger index majorly because of this.
“The problem is that, even though we are producing a lot, a large percentage of the production is going into waste. With an effective cold chain policy, Agriculture in Nigeria will soar to greater heights”.
Another speaker, Mr. Richard Mark Mbaram, Senior Special Adviser to Minister of Agriculture on Communication called on Journalists to hold government accountable to the citizenry.
Mbaram speaking through a representative, wondered why media practitioners often accept things without making efforts to get into details of such announcements in order to make government stand firm on their policies.
Describing Anchor Borrower programme introduced by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as one of the programmes which journalists should bring their interrogative minds to bear, he reminded journalists that the general public often rely on what journalists feed them.
He said: “Most of those programmes on agricultural developments are only heard on pages of newspapers or on the television screens while the direct farmers are not aware of such funds or any subsidy released for farmers.
“Who are the people that benefited from all those things announced by government for farmers.”
Journalists should dig deep to separate the myth from the meat in all government policies.
Also commenting on the day’s issue, Mr. Sakin Agbeyewa, Deputy Chairman of Lagos state All Farmers Association of Nigeria, who represented his Chairman Femi Oke stressed that Nigeria’s agricultural sector needs a lot of subsidy, not just in form of cash to farmers but through the provision of a conducive atmosphere.
In his words, “The subsidy we are calling for is not in form of cash to our members. The subsidy we want is ready- to- plant lands. By clearing bush for our members, by helping us interface with all types of land owners who gather to disturb during planting and harvesting period. In the northern part, farmers are being preventing from going to farms to harvest their crops by terrorists that are forcing them to heavy dues for them to access their farms products, subsidy is also in form of provision of bulldozers for land, swamp-dozers for swampy areas, provision of food preservers for perishable products.”
At the conference, awards were also given to outstanding personalities and brands. Award recipients include, First Bank of Nigeria, Multichoice’s Caroline Oghuma, Startimes Go, British American Tobacco of Nigeria(UBA), Lanre Adisa of Noah’s Ark Advertising and many others.
The event was the first hybrid conference of the association and was streamed live on Facebook, Instagram and zoom platforms. About 400 participants including members of the association outside Lagos graced the occasion both physically and virtually.
Commenting on the success of the event, the Vice- President of BJAN, Afolabi Idowu said, “Indeed, BJAN Conferences over the years have kept a strong record of organizing thought provoking discourse aimed at propelling brand Nigeria to the next level.
“This year’s theme was carefully crafted to drive effective deliberations. They were handled by seasoned and experienced professionals.
“We sincerely believe this year’s speakers delivered breath-taking papers that will raise the consciousness of the nation in all ramifications. I sincerely believe despite the recession and the seemingly chaotic socio-economic space, there is hope for Nigeria.”