Building Competitive Agricultural Economy

Oluchi Chibuzor examines factors that makes agriculture critical

The Nigerian economy remains the biggest in Africa. Analysts say the economy clearly has size and is on the path to meet its food production needs due to its comparative advantage in agriculture.
According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Nigeria has many opportunities to transform its economy particularly in agro-processing and special agro-processing zones could promote agro-industrial development and employment.

The agriculture sector grew by 14.88 percent year-on-year in nominal terms in Q3 2019 recording a decline of—2.89 percent points and 7.7 percent points for the preceding Q2 and Q1 which recorded 17.76 percent and 22.58 percent points growth respectively.

Also, the sector grew by 2.28 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019, an increase by 0.37 percent points from the corresponding period of 2018, and 0.49 percent points from the preceding quarter which recorded a growth rate of 1.79 percent, it however, fell 0.82percent points against 3.17percent recorded for Q1 2019.

In terms of contribution, the sector contributed 29.25 per cent to overall real GDP during the quarter, same as a contribution in the third quarter of 2018 but higher than the second and first quarters of 2019 which stood at 22.78 percent and 21.91percent respectively.

Crop production grew by 2.41 per cent in Q3 2019 from 1.94 per cent in Q2 2019 while Q1 recorded 3.27 percent, livestock sector grew by 0.02percent in Q3 2019 after it contracted by -0.01 percent in Q2 2019 from 0.88 percent in Q1 2019. Forestry grew by 2.1percent in Q1 2019; 3.23 percent in Q2 and 3.78 percent in Q3, while fishing grew by 7.09 percent in Q1; 1.09 percent in Q2 and 1.68 percent in Q3.

Diversification
Speaking on the issue, the Vice President, Nigeria Agribusiness Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ijewere, stressed the importance of diversifying the economy.

He said the process has already started with the farmers at the fore front, adding that if agriculture was taken seriously it is the biggest provided of job, opportunities for people to remain in the villages and develop the villages than everybody coming to the cities.

With the efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to farmers, stakeholders acknowledged the apex bank was determined to support more farm activities with competitive and comparative local advantages and protect them by restricting food importation.
Ijewere, stated that several factors combine to position the nation as the largest economy in the continent, while expressing satisfaction on the CBN’s commitment to aggregates farmers and investors to a single platform where it becomes necessary to off-takes agricultural produce in different parts of the country.

He added: “It is a statement of fact that the Nigerian economy is the largest in Africa, the next to it is South Africa, followed by Egypt and then Algeria. I think the economy itself one did not know was the largest until it was re-calibrated by Okonjo Iweala,” he said.
He maintained that the reason for this was that over 55 percent of Nigeria economy was in the informal area-those who trade by the streets, and no records of them was kept.
He noted that this was not just because of what government has done or its various developmental programmes in the agricultural sector, it has been building up over time.

“The situation is huge; the population has to be fed, clothe, provide accommodation and transportation for them; all this makes it the biggest economy because of the huge population we have.
“On top of that we have been able to make much progress, because while it is not enough, but at least the economy has been fueled by the oil and gas resources the nation has. Yes, we have not progress as much we should progress but the economy and the economic activities in Nigeria are very dynamic.
On the progress made within the agricultural sector and with respect to food production, the renowned farmer congratulates the apex bank on its Anchor Borrower’s Programme, stressing that it has not gotten to where it ought to be, “it has started working.

“It will take a long time to break a habit of people but now things will take shape and is based on one fundamental issue that one does not produce what people do not want. In other word it must be based on demand.

“Our economy in the past, when government was in whole control of the economy and agriculture in particular, they just kept on producing without asking what do the people want, but with ABP, the anchor is that person whom is going to say I want your goods and will give specification of its goods and then CBN will help those who want to produce it.
“So the ABP programmes link who is buying with the person who is producing or the farmer with a person providing the fund, so this is bringing all the parties together, which makes it a fantastic initiative of the CBN.

“However the growth will not happen overnight but it is a beginning to take root and is making progress towards encouraging food production in the country.”
On his part, the Chairman Agricultural Trade Group of Nigerian Associations of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Ade Adefeko, said, the ABP has been largely successful though there a few defaults which was to be expected but largely positive.
“What people are doing now is to change their palettes and eat local and backward integration efforts are being intensified by local companies but the impact will be felt only much later,” he maintained.”

Increased Agro-commodity Value Chain
Ijewere stated that diversifying the economy was. He said agriculture should be taken seriously as it is the biggest provider of jobs and opportunities for people.
“We have improved the value chain from farming to table and so that is the situation that is beginning to happen now,” he said.
Adefeko however appreciated the CBN’s effort in the agro-value chain, adding that, “banks are doing their bit but can do more. They are being encouraged to lend to the informal sector.”
The CBN on their own have come with numerous intervention funds for Rice, Maize, Tomato, Oil Palm and now DAIRY,” Adefeko added.

The central bank recently hosted a meeting on how to transform the cocoa industry with stakeholders drawn from across the country.
On how to ensure that the backward integration achieved it purposes, Ijewere revealed that the weakest part so far has been the value chain from the farm.
“Nigeria loses a lot of its produce because of mishandling so you have a lot of post-harvest loss. We are trying to encourage people to come in to help reduce these losses by off-taking what the farmers have produce by preserving and processing the produce,” he demanded.

Chiemeka Azubuieke, a Poultry consultant on Noiler Birds to Nigeria Market Development for the Niger Delta Programme (MADE), a DFID supported project, said farmers have benefited in the backward integration of the government. “With the introduction of Entrepreneurship Development Institute, over 40,000 farmers in Imo state have not received any fund despite the herculean task of proposal development and we keep asking when will there be a proactive procedure for farmers to access funds as obtains in other parts in the continents.

“The economy is the largest in Africa, but we should begin to have mechanism in place to improved road access, Good Agricultural Practices(GAP) for every value chain, establish farming estates and see the sector as a developmental project that encourages Agricultural students to work mainly in farms right from the colleges and universities.

“The economy managers should begin to see how they can use the national demand gap for some food items to formulate policy that recognises the geographical locations.
“For example in Baruten Local government in Kwara State, we have good supply of goats, that we can improve the meat value chain, in South-east, oil palm is doing well, and we should have small cottage oil millers that can produce standard products for export to benefits from the huge market potential of the economy.”

Source: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/03/26/building-competitive-agricultural-economy/

Agric-business: World Bank ranks Nigeria 7th in Africa

Nigeria has been ranked seventh in the latest World Bank’s evaluation of countries’ performance in agriculture and farming across Africa, behind South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, among others. This was revealed in World Bank’s ‘The Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA)’ report December 2019.

The report captures steps taken by different governments to help farmers and enhance agriculture and food security. It measures law and regulations that impact the business environment for a sustaining and thriving agricultural development.

The measurement is global with France leading. In Africa, South Africa leads, followed by Kenya and Morocco in the second and third position respectively. Other African countries with higher ranking than Nigeria are Zambia, Mozambique and Ghana.

Nigeria recorded an aggregate score of 49.17, lower than the scores of South Africa and Kenya with respective scores of 68.73 and 64.80. The World Bank used eight indicators to measure the regulation and bureaucratic processes of about 101 countries. The indicators mentioned include supplying of seeds, registering fertilizer, water security, registering machinery, livestock sustenance, protecting plant health, food trading and accessing finance.

Although EBA failed to show data on the indicator’s final individual performances of every country, so it is difficult to confirm which particular indicator draws Nigeria backward. However between 2016 and 2018, the report shows that Nigeria made big reforms in two out the eight indicators; trading food and sustaining livestock.

“Nigeria made its livestock manufacturing processes safer by requiring facilities to be approved prior to the start of operations, and by requiring that monitoring records be kept, also, Nigeria made it easier to trade agricultural products by publishing the official fee schedule of phytosanitary certificates both online and in the legislation,” the report said.

Source:https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/03/agric-business-world-bank-ranks-nigeria-7th-in-africa/

NYSC members laud FG on agricultural training

Some members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have lauded the Federal Government for providing them platforms to become self employed, especially in the agricultural sector.

The corps members, who participated in the Agricultural Value Chain Commodities training in Ibadan, spoke on Thursday at the end of the three-day programme.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme was organised by the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute as part of the 2019 Federal Government capital projects on capacity building for youths.

Speaking on the impact of the training, one of the participants, Kausarat Abdulrasak, said it taught her new innovations on value addition and widened her horizons.

“This is something I would love to practise at the end of my service year by having my own product in the market and becoming an employer of labour,”she said.

Another participant, Omotoke Odunore, said the training had aroused her interest in agribusiness.

Others counted themselves fortunate to have learnt about value chain opportunities in agriculture and promised to turn the knowledge into a good venture that would make them self-reliant.

Mrs Sandra Kolade, Assistant Director, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), commended the Federal Government for providing opportunities for the corps members to be self reliant.

She, however, charged the participants to be faithful stewards of the knowledge and opportunities they have to make economic gains.

“At this time where getting white collar jobs are becoming a big problem to the nation, the training has opened their eyes to be able to use their hands and brain to be self employed as well as become employers of labour.

“This will go a long way to take our children off the road and boost our economy at this time,” she said.

Dr Grace Otitodun, NSPRI Zonal Coordinator, in her remarks, said the participants could harness the services of the institute at a lower cost to start up their businesses.

“Our Executive Director at NSPRI had said that those who had intention to go into value addition business at the end of their service year should prepare a proposal.

“Those with good proposals will be assisted and given NSPRI starter pack with required technical support to motivate them,”Otitodun said.

NAN reports that certificate of participation was presented to the 40 participants.

The participants at the training were corps members drawn from four local governments in Ibadan– Ibadan North 1 and ll, Ibadan North West and Ibadan South East.

NAN also reports that the training included value addition in agricultural commodities such as Poundo Yam, Rice Flour, Beans Flour, Tomato Paste and Smoked fish among others. (NAN)

Source: https://www.sunnewsonline.com/nysc-members-laud-fg-on-agricultural-training/


NIRSAL, AFAN to unveil agric development roadmap

The Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) are jointly developing a strategic roadmap that will ultimately return the lost glory of farmers and agriculture as the fulcrum of economic growth in the country. 

This was the agreement reached on Wednesday when the newly-elected executives of AFAN paid a courtesy visit to the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Abdulhameed Aliyu in Abuja.

In his remarks, Aliyu said the partnership could not have come at a better time than now because NIRSAL was championing various initiatives aimed at boosting the fortunes Nigerian farmers and guaranteeing food security.

He said the agency currently runs an agro geo-cooperatives concept that seeks to assemble 8 million farmers that will cultivate 4 million hectares through 16,000 geo-cooperative groups.

Aliyu added that the idea of the cooperative societies was to bunch together individual subsistence farmers under one platform where they can become more visible to receive support in terms of financing, improved seedlings, agriculture extension services and other assistance.

He said: “This visit is greatly appreciated. I’m confident that AFAN under Alhaji Farouk will lead the farmers on a long journey into prosperity and not poverty via agriculture and agribusiness.

“NIRSAL’s agro geo-cooperative concept is there to solve issues of linking farmers to markets, inputs, machinery, etc.

“The truth is that millions of our farmers are into subsistence and we’ve to get them out.

Under NIRSAL agro geo-cooperative concept, we want to empower farmers scattered around villages and hamlets through social engineering and this is a platform AFAN has created. AFAN knows the farmers, we know the executives of AFAN, so we will come up with a roadmap that works for both parties and ultimately be beneficial to Nigerians.

“We can take the roadmap to financiers or input or machinery suppliers to say we know AFAN and their operational strategy works for us. We can attest to what they are doing and guarantee it. That’s the essence of this partnership. Nigeria will be best for it”, he said.

Responding, AFAN President, Mr Farouk Rabiu Mudi  said NIRSAL described NIRSAL as the home and mother of farmers.

He said AFAN comprises all farmers in all segments like rice, poultry, cattle, fish and others.

He said: NIRSAL is a credit to the Agricultural Promotion Policy of the Federal Government and deserves the support of every patriotic stakeholder and the general public.

“NIRSAL is doing what Nigerian farmers have been praying for so long: convincing the banks and other financial institutions to invest more in agriculture.

NIRSAL doesn’t take any budget from government and yet it contributes so much value to the sector and the entire economy. This is critical because, without funds, it is impossible to move Nigerian agriculture to agribusiness; without funds, we cannot improve the welfare of farmers who are feeding a nation of 200 million people.

“The fact that NIRSAL has facilitated over N100 billion into agriculture is no joke and we as farmers are very happy and grateful. I want to use this opportunity to also commend the efforts of the Central Bank whose Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele is the Chairman of NIRSAL.

“We are happy that the CBN under Governor Emefiele has made agriculture the cornerstone of its developmental agenda as reflected in the resources and attention that have been invested in the Anchor Borrowers Programme.

“AFAN will work with NIRSAL to popularize and institutionalize the innovative Agro Geo-Cooperatives concept of NIRSAL so that Nigerian farmers across the country can start benefiting from the implementation of the scheme”.

Source: https://www.sunnewsonline.com/nirsal-afan-to-unveil-agric-development-roadmap/

Lagos deputy governor, others to speak at Agoro annual agriculture lecture

Deputy governor of Lagos State Obafemi Kadiri Hamzat and the Chairman of Eagle Paints Nigeria Akin Disu are among the personalities slated to speak at the annual lecture in memory of late Abudu Mukandasi Agoro (AM Agoro).

Hamzat will be the special guest of honour while Disu will be chairman of the event slated to hold on March 28, 2020.

Titled ‘Agroprenurship, the pathway to sustaining youth employment in Nigeria’, the second edition of the lecture will take place at the Honeywell Auditorium of the Lagos Business School, Lekki-Epe Express Way, Ajah, Lagos.

The keynote speaker will be Kola Masha, the Managing Director, Baban Gona, a company that provides cost-effective end-to-end services to a network of franchise farmer groups.

The lecture is done in collaboration with the Enterprise Development Center of the Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos.

Organisers of the annual entrepreneurship lecture said the event is done in memory of AM Agoro’s immense contribution to society.

“This year the Lecture series will focus on Agriculture, a venture AM Agoro held close to his heart. The series is one way no one can ever forget AM Agoro’s storyline in the history of Lagos. His legacy lives on,” organisers of the lecture said in a statement.

Source: https://guardian.ng/news/lagos-deputy-governor-others-to-speak-at-agoro-annual-agriculture-lecture/

AFEX Commodities to unlock funding for 50,000 farmers

AFEX Commodities Exchange Ltd has unfolded plans to unlock funding for 50,000 farmers.

 The Chief Executive Officer, AFEX, Mr Ayodeji Balogun said this in Abuja at a dinner shortly after the international conference on the Nigerian commodities market

he conference which was organised by the Securities and Exchange Commission had as its theme, ‘Commodities trading ecosystem: Key to diversifying Nigeria’s economy.’

 AFEX is  Nigeria’s first private sector commodity exchange firm established in 2014 under the aegis of the Africa Exchange Holdings Limited.

 Balogun said that AFEX had assisted small-holder farmers to record  about $50m transactions in agriculture value chain across 15 states in Nigeria.

 He said with the agricultural sector employing about 40 per cent of labour force, there was a need  to unlock funding for the sector in order to enable the government effectively diversify the economy.

He said, ‘’AFEX has since reached and enhanced the livelihoods of over 100,000 farmers and aggregated 100,000 metric tons of grains with the organisation’s overarching strategy of a national trading platform and supply chain network in carefully identified value chains.

 “Through this, farmers and commodity merchants can access the financial markets. So when you focus on agricultural commodities exchange, beyond being 25 per cent of our economy and employ the latest pool in the country, it is actually one that can give us the kind of inclusive growth that we need.

 “This is why the administration has focused very heavily on the agricultural sector.

“We would be unlocking finance to about 50,000 farmers across state. This, we will do by partnering with the capital market as well as some micro finance institutions that provide financing for the structures that we have created.”

The AFEX Vice President, Financial Market, Akin Akintunde  said the awards were given to stakeholders that has supported AFEX to boost the agricultural value.

At the event, some stakeholders were given awards for their contributions to the development of the Commodities Exchange.

Source: https://punchng.com/afex-commodities-to-unlock-funding-for-50000-farmers/

AFFM earmarks $2.2m as fertiliser subsidy for Nigerian farmers

About 200,000 smallholder farmers in Nigeria will spend less in buying fertiliser this farming season at the commencement of the $2.2 million fund project provided by the Africa Fertiliser Financing Mechanism (AFFM) to boost the supply of fertiliser for retailers across the country.

The project, launched in March 3, 2020 with partnership from Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and Africa Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) is to provide credit to 142 fertiliser suppliers, agro-dealers and retailers who were captured into the fertiliser financing scheme across West Africa to upscale and accelerate fertiliser distribution chain in the region even as the farming season approaches.

According to Nana-Aisha Mohammed who represented AFAP, international organisations and government agencies with relevant stakeholders in the country’s fertiliser value chain will work harmoniously on existing framework which will guarantee the delivery and ease the distribution of fertilisers to the 200,000 farmers.

“We will leverage on existing networks and look for creative solutions to increase the availability of fertiliser in the country,” she said.

Over the years, previous administrations have been subsidising the supply of fertilisers to farmers in the country but very few of these supplies get to the hands of smallholder farmers who cultivate a larger percentage of agricultural produce consumed.

However, with this intervention fund by the AFFM, Umar Musa, assistant director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the project “will support smallholder farmers and improve their productivity in order to help the country increase its local production and consumption of fertiliser.”

The project is expected to provide growth and support in the agricultural sector by giving farmers unrestricted access to fertilizer and record high yield in crop production after harvesting.

Due to lack of access to fertiliser, farmers experience persistent nightmares of low harvest at the end of every farming season.

Marie Claire Kalihangabo, AFFM coordinator expressed optimism that the project would achieve the desired outcomes.

“We are confident that the project will increase access to quality and affordable fertiliser by smallholder farmers and hence contribute to the transformation of the agriculture sector in Nigeria,” said Kalihangabo.

Source https://www.businessamlive.com/affm-earmarks-2-2m-as-fertiliser-subsidy-for-nigerian-farmers/

A VIBRANT COMMODITIES MARKET KEY TO NIGERIA’S DIVERSIFICATION BID

Commodity markets are physical or virtual markets for buying, selling, and trading raw or primary products and Nigeria is endowed with various commodities, comprising agriculture, energy and mineral resources.

At a 2-day International Conference on the Nigerian Commodities Market (ICNCM 2020) held in Abuja yesterday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said that a vibrant commodity market would create jobs, reduce poverty, and improve Nigeria’s micro-economic status.

Represented by the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Maryam Katagun, Prof. Osinbajo also said that Nigeria is endowed with favourable atmospheric conditions for farming as well as abundant natural resources and a teaming youthful population. He added that the efficient use of these resources would benefit both the public and private sectors of the economy.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Nigeria has been looking at various ways of diversifying and developing a vibrant commodity trading ecosystem. It has been proven that economic diversification is Nigeria’s only way to survive the current environment of global economic uncertainty and the unpredictable oil price that constantly hits the country hard. This is because the economy continues to be over-reliant on oil, which accounts for 80 percent of government revenue and 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said that the country is exploring several national plans, programmes and projects targeted at diversifying the production and revenue sectors of the economy. She further explained that while achievements have been made in these areas, there is a need to do more to ensure that the country’s production and export base is robust and less vulnerable to external shocks as well as provide more opportunities for the growing population.

One of the key initiatives of the 10-year Capital Market Master Plan is the development of a thriving commodity trading ecosystem as part of the capital market’s contribution to the national economy with agriculture being a vital means of achieving this goal. The agriculture sector employs 40 percent of the workforce and accounts for 22 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

Millions of Nigerians live in poverty, unemployment rates are high and productivity is at its lowest level. It is important that the government makes tangible diversification efforts by focusing on other sectors.

Source: http://venturesafrica.com/a-vibrant-commodities-market-key-to-nigerias-diversification-bid/

Lagos, Ogun partner to train 3,000 youths in agriculture

In a bid to make Southwest food basket of the nation, Ogun and Lagos States have partnered to train over 3000 youths on tomatoes, chili pepper, garment value chain, and many others

The Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, revealed the training was not just to make the state a food basket, but to also tackle unemployment so that youths be self employed and be able to feed themselves and their families.

He said this on Monday at the presentation of the Nigerian Competitiveness Project (NICOP), under the West Africa Competitiveness Programme for Ogun and Lagos States, held in Abeokuta, Ogun state.

The Commissioner noted that the State government was working on productivity of farmers and linking them to opportunities, including the industrial process, create jobs and promote industrialisation of Agriculture through PPP.

Odedina said “In the state today 56,000 young people have registered for our Anchor Borrower’s programme and this feat is unprecedented, while the number is still growing. We have cleared lands in 25 locations and provided seedlings for them. We have two reasons for doings these, to help the 56,000 by linking them to industries to give them jobs, so that they can continue to create the value chain opportunity and allow them to go and explore the value chain opportunity.”

Meanwhile, the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, represented by his Deputy Engr Noimot Oyedele-Salako, hinted that his government would continue to advocate and create enabling environment for Public Private Partnership (PPP), to engender an enduring economic development.

Abiodun maintained that no government had monopoly of funds and other wherewithal to create a wholesome and sustainable development.

Also speaking, the Minister for Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, represented by a Director in the Ministry, Alh. Mohammed Abubakar, said competitiveness was key to achieving sustainable development, expressing optimism that NICOP would generate positive impact, when the four selected commodities were developed, especially now that the economy was being diversified from oil.

Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, added that the project would enhance the country’s integration into the regional and international trading system.

He explained that if attention was not paid to the off stream sector of agriculture, there would be chaos, as the market was very key in the agricultural space.

In her address, the representative of GIZ, Mrs. Emma Odondo, said the presence of GIZ in Nigeria had contributed to the agricultural value chain development, adding that the agency was reinforcing its presence in Ogun and Lagos with several programmes to include; the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) and Green Innovation Centres for Agriculture and food security (GIAE), as well as working on selected value chain such as Tomato , Pepper, maize, ginger, rice, potatoes, sorghum, cocoa and many more.

Source: https://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2020/03/17/lagos-ogun-partner-to-train-3000-youths-in-agriculture/

BUSINESSFG’s Agriculture Policy Intervention Strengthening Smallholder Farmers

The federal government after years of neglect of the agriculture sector beginning from 2010 and 2011, commenced a major reform of the industry. To refocus the sector, the government implemented a new strategy, the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), and in 2011 up to 2016, the focus was on rebuilding a sector whose relevance had shrunk dramatically.

That was reflected in the lack of lending to farmers by the financial system and the dramatic levels of food imports from across the world, and the intervention, the ATA, served its core purpose of helping refocus Nigeria’s attention on agriculture.

The federal government after years of neglect of the agriculture sector beginning from 2010 and 2011, commenced a major reform of the industry. To refocus the sector, the government implemented a new strategy, the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), and in 2011 up to 2016, the focus was on rebuilding a sector whose relevance had shrunk dramatically.

That was reflected in the lack of lending to farmers by the financial system and the dramatic levels of food imports from across the world, and the intervention, the ATA, served its core purpose of helping refocus Nigeria’s attention on agriculture.

Access to insurance contracts also remains a challenge, because while new providers have been licensed by the National Insurance Commission to retail agricultural insurance, the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, NAIC remains the dominant supplier. However agricultural insurance penetration remains below three per cent measured by farmers enrolled and cropping area covered, versus 10 per cent target (using India and China as proxies) which would be a reasonable target by 2021.

Government no doubt is mindful of the fact that smallholder farmers are no doubt, critical stakeholders in its economic diversification bid, which is largely anchored on agriculture. They are also instrumental in the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty and hunger.

However, efforts to create an enabling environment for them and other agriculture entrepreneurs have not been successful because a critical challenge remains lack of access to finance, markets and support systems such as infrastructure, skills, information on modern agricultural practices and improved technology along the agriculture value chain.

Considering the huge stake that smallholder farmers have in the production of locally-consumed food, accounting for about 70 per cent of all agricultural produce, agriculture experts have reached a consensus that these farmers can no longer be ignored.

For the long-term development of the agriculture sector and the empowerment of farmers, private sector participation is key because the government cannot provide all the solutions alone. This underlines why agriculture is in the priority list of some well-meaning multinational companies’ corporate social investments. In so doing, they align their agricultural intervention schemes with existing government policies and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

There are notable interventions such like Shell Petroleum Development Company (SDPC), British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BAT Nigeria Foundation), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, A.G Leventis, among others.

Source: https://leadership.ng/2020/03/18/fgs-agriculture-policy-intervention-strengthening-smallholder-farmers-2/