The Director, International Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, Bayero University, Kano, Prof Binta Tijjani Jubril, has described agriculture as catalyst for economic growth and development as it remains the instrument for employment generation, poverty alleviation and food security.
Speaking at a round table discussion on promoting agriculture through Islamic finance, opportunities, challenges and the way forward, held at the university yesterday, Jubril said the country is blessed with diversified natural agricultural endowments spread across all its geo-political zones.
According to her, the northern part of the country has continued to be the food basket of the nation and consistently contributes to the country’s growth and development since pre-independence, adding that Kano and Jigawa states were leading producers of variety of agricultural products such as groundnut, cotton, cowpea, hides and skin among others. She, however, stated that with the discovery of oil, the agricultural sector was completely neglected by the government and its contributions to the economy dwindled, resulting in rising unemployment, poverty, food insecurity, destitution, youths restiveness as well as unsustainable of rural-urban drift.
She pointed out that despite various government policies, programmes and initiatives aimed at revamping agriculture, poor access to finance has continued to hinder any meaningful progress, stressing that most of the interventions and credit facilities provided by government are interestbased which made them largely inaccessibly to many of the farmers in predominantly Muslim states like Kano and Jigawa.
She further stressed that Islamic finance seems to be the missing link that could unlock Nigeria’s huge potentials in agriculture, positing that the institute had decided to partner with the Jigawa Forum and Green Horizon to organise the round table in order to bring to the attention of all stakeholders to re-strategise agricultural financing policies and programmes.