THE NIGERIAN AGRICULTURAL PROMOTION POLICY: PROGRESS MADE SO FAR.

INTRODUCTION

Critical to attaining sustainable food security in Nigeria is the development of agriculture in the economy. The full potential of the nation’s agriculture sector has not been realized largely due to gross neglect of the sector during and after the oil boom era, as well as weak policy formulation and implementation. Though blessed with a favorable farming climate, and having 83.7% of its land suitable for farming purposes, only about 40% of Nigeria’s agricultural land is cultivated (Oxford Business Group, 2016).

In order to achieve Goal 2 of the SDGs, there is the need to fully implement sound agricultural policies that has been designed to address the loopholes impeding the growth of the sector. In a 2017 statement, Vice-President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo noted that the fundamental requirement for sustainable growth in Nigeria is not in the hydro-carbon industry but in agriculture. This is because the agricultural value chain has linkages to other sectors of the economy, and thus goes a long way in developing other sectors of the economy.

Although several agricultural policies have been formulated and implemented in Nigeria’s history, the Selected Food Price Watch (NBS, 2018) shows that the price of most food items has risen overtime (month-on-month). Also, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2018 report states that despite the high potential of generating self-employment in the agricultural sector, 42% of Nigerian youths are unemployed, and about two-thirds of the youths live in poverty. It therefore becomes important to assess the performance of agricultural policies in Nigeria, and this Brief does that by assessing the Agricultural Promotion Policy.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE POLICY

The vision of the current administration concerning agriculture is to work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy capable of providing sustained prosperity, through meeting domestic food security goals, generating exports, and supporting sustainable income and job growth. Hence, the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) is a refreshed strategy to refocus and reform the agricultural sector. It covers the period of 2016 to 2020 and it builds on the success of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (2011-2015). The policy provides an approach to building an agribusiness ecosystem aimed at addressing two main problems:

  • The problem of importing significant amount of food; and
  • The issue of not earning significant foreign exchange from agriculture.

In addition to these, it adopts two broad approaches in addressing these issues, they are:

  • Improving the productivity of a variety of domestically focused crops such as rice, fish, meat, maize, diary milk, soya beans, poultry, fruits, vegetable and sugar; and
  • Prioritizing the improved production of certain crops for exports. Such crops include cocoa, cowpeas, cashew, cassava, oil palm, ginger, yam, sesame and so on.

 

PROGRESS MADE SO FAR

Programmes, measures and strategies adopted towards the development of agriculture under the APP has led to the following among others:

  • The sector grew by 3.06% in real terms in Q3 2017, a decrease of 1.43% compared to Q3 2016 (NBS, 2017);
  • Nigeria’s backward integration for rice led to private investment in domestic rice milling with capacity totaling 1.2 million tons in 2017 (USDA GAIN report, 2017);
  • Export of cashew nuts listed as one of the prioritized crops for exports, grew by 148.4% in 2017 while exports for oil seed grew by 122.7% (World Trade Exports, 2018);
  • Domestic production of corn was 10.5 million tons, while consumption was 10.9 million tons in 2017 (USDA GAIN report, 2018);
  • Production of wheat was estimated at 60,000 tons in 2017, a 0% increase compared to 2016 estimates (USDA GAIN report, 2018);
  • Production of rice was estimated at an all-time peak of 3.7 million tons in 2017, while domestic consumption was 6.4million tons (USDA GAIN report, 2018);
  • Cocoa exports grew by 0.6% in 2017 while that of ginger and other spices fell by 9.1% (World Trade Exports, 2018);
  • Agriculture contributed 29.15% to real GDP in Q3 2017, an increase from 28.68% in Q3 2016 (NBS, 2017).

GAPS IN THE AGRICULTURAL POLICY

A major gap in the policy is the issue of poor metrics in the sense that there are no detailed quantitative targets set either on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis as the case may be. This makes the document vague such that growth and progress made cannot be tracked against targets that have been set.

Although the policy faults the non-implementation of the Maputo declaration of 10% minimum budgetary allocation to agriculture sector by past policies, it does not make allowance for proper funding of the sector given that a target of 2% share of Federal budget was set for agriculture. This allocation to agriculture is very insignificant compared to the development needs of the sector.

CHALLENGES INHIBITING THE SUCCESS OF THE POLICY

Issues such as insufficient funding, poor monitoring and evaluation techniques, inadequate consultations with key stakeholders in the agricultural sector, and lack of political will to follow the steps outlined in the policy document have limited the success of the policy. Of all these, inadequate financing of agriculture serves as a major barrier in achieving the goals of the APP. Majority of private investors have not really considered the agricultural sector to be as lucrative as its prospects. This may be due to the long waiting period required to enjoy returns on agricultural investment, as well as previous neglect of the sector. Although there are international aids channeled to the sector, the government being a major facilitator in the agricultural sector has not provided sufficient incentives and support for private investors interested in the agribusiness.

The Boko-Haram insurgency in the country has negatively affected agricultural development especially in the North-East region. Of greater harm is the Fulani herdsmen-Farmers conflict in some parts of the North-Central region as well as the South-West Nigeria. The Fulani herdsmen-Farmers conflicts in the country has negatively affected agricultural development in the North-East and parts of the North-Central region. USDA GAIN report (2018) estimates that over two million people in these troubled regions are depending on food support, especially from international organizations. This situation is a mitigating factor for agricultural development given that these people are a part of the active farming population before being displaced by the crisis.

Other factors limiting the success of the policy includes among others: poor market access for farmers; poor farm mechanization; poor storage facilities and lack of improved seedlings that could improve crop production in the sector.

RECOMMENDATION

  • Resolving the Fulani herdsmen-Farmers’ crisis is key to attaining food security in the nation. This will not only reduce cases of deaths in affected areas, it will also provide an avenue for the best usage of land, such that agricultural lands are used for agricultural purposes without fear or threat to life.
  • Given the current FX ban on 41 value items, there should be massive injection of funds into the agricultural sector to address the issue of supply shortage of rice and other similar agricultural produce. This would ensure that local production considerably meets domestic demand. Also, a softer import-substitution strategy such as issuing stringent quotas to importers, and encouraging a system where local farmers have incentives to operate successfully in the market without threat from importers, may be adopted in place of an outright ban. This will cushion supply shortage within the interim period where domestic production may not efficiently meet domestic consumption.
  • The private sector should be encouraged to invest in agribusinesses, while the government should provide a conducive atmosphere where such investments can thrive. This is because the role of private sector is critical in the agricultural value chain. Highly improved seedlings should be made available to farmers and interested investors so as to address the issue of long waiting period in obtaining profits on agro-investment due to maturity period of cash crops. To achieve this, agricultural research has to be improved and experts in science and technology should be consulted in the development of improved seedlings.  
  • An efficient monitoring and evaluation technique should be put in place to ensure that funds disbursed to the agricultural sector are properly accounted for. Measures should be put in place to track these funds until they get to the targeted organizations or people. This is very important because no matter the level of funding given to agricultural development in Nigeria, there would be no significant impact if the funds don’t get to the people intended i.e. the local farmers and other key stakeholders. Funds should be managed judiciously and it should be ascertained that they are used for the right purposes.  

CONCLUSION

The Agricultural Promotion Policy, though broad in scope, requires further consultations with key stakeholders in both government and private sectors so as to ascertain what level of progress has been made, identify the current challenges in achieving the goals of the policy as well as develop bespoke strategy that will be useful in tackling these challenges, thus, avoiding the issue of policy failure.

 

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