Dr Sarah Alade, Acting Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, said on Friday that Nigeria spends an average of four billion dollars annually on the importation of rice.

Speaking at the ongoing Africa Rising Conference on Friday in Maputo, Alade who featured as a panelist in a session with the theme: “Structural Transformation and Private Sector Development in Sub-Saharan Africa’’, said: “Agriculture is key to economic development in Africa; on the average, Nigeria spends about four billion dollars on the importation of rice.

“We need to improve domestic market to harness the natural resources we have.”

Alade said if Africa was able to transform the agricultural sector, it would be able to feed itself and have surplus for others.

She said that the Nigerian government was doing everything possible to minimise risks in the sector to enable participation of local investors.

She added that the ongoing agricultural transformation programme had equally attracted many foreign investors.

In his contribution, Mr Andrew Rugasira, Chief Executive Officer, Good Africa Coffee, Uganda, said mineral resources abound in Africa that could be explored even as transformation in the agricultural sector was been pursued.

He noted that developed countries were more interested in the development of agriculture in the continent than Africans who own arable lands.

According to him, Nigeria, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire which have huge coffee resources export less products compared to Germany.

“Germany exports on the average of about 12 million metric tonnes of coffee worth about 9. 3 billion dollars compared to the 10 million metric tonnes with a value of 2.2 billion dollars by countries in Africa.

“Germany does not grow coffee but they export more than us; it needs to be changed,’’ Rugasira, said.

He said that implementation of well thought out policies in African countries remained a major challenge to be tackled.

Also, Jingdong Hua, Vice President and Treasurer, International Finance Corporation called for the introduction of technology in trading in Africa.

He said that focus should be on improving the agricultural sector through various capital markets, adding that money should be channelled into improving areas that would be of economic value to the countries.

This, Jindong said, would help to use agriculture to achieve inclusive economic growth.