Ortom charges Benue people to invest in Agric, ICT

Governor Samuel Ortom has urged the people of Benue State to explore investment opportunities in Agriculture as well as Information and Communication Technology, ICT to contribute their quota to the economic development of the state.

He made the call today at the Benue Peoples House Makurdi during a courtesy visit on him by a delegation from the Benue State Branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, led by its Controller, Abba Bulus Ibrahim.

The Governor stated that investment opportunities abound in fishery right from production and the entire agriculture value chain, stressing that cultivation of maize and other cash crops in commercial quantities could also serve as raw materials and provide employment opportunities.

He stated that his administration had recently constituted a committee to explore potential investment opportunities that could help develop the economy, pointing out that government would sensitize and encourage the people to venture into such areas that would improve their earnings.

The Governor commended the CBN for its interest in the development of non oil economy especially agriculture, saying his administration would collaborate with the apex bank to become one of the fish production hubs in the country.

The CBN branch Controller, Abba Bulus Ibrahim stated that the bank was intensifying collaboration with relevant stakeholders to boost production, thereby reducing import bills and creating jobs along the value chain of ten major agricultural commodities including fishery.

He stated that Nigeria with its large expanse of marine and inland water resources could become self-sufficient in fish production if necessary steps were taken to properly develop and increase investment in the subsector.

Mr. Ibrahim lamented that Nigeria loses about $1.2 billion annually to importation of fish which also slows economic growth and causes loss of employment.

He said fish farmers could access funding in form of loans from the CBN through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme with support from the Benue State Government.

Source: https://dailypost.ng/2020/03/10/ortom-charges-benue-people-to-invest-in-agric-ict/

Leveraging technology to boost food security

Agriculture is one of the main drivers of Nigeria’s economic growth. It accounts for about 23 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The potential of the sector to address the unemployment problem of the country is not lost on the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. He said agriculture remains a viable means for employment generation in Nigeria.

According to him, substantial investment in the sector by the Federal Government would guarantee food security for the country.

Lawan spoke during the debate on a bill that sought to establish the Agricultural Development Fund at plenary.

“The agricultural sector remains unarguably the most viable means of ensuring that we create employment opportunities and that we create wealth for our people as well.

“If there is anything that needs to be done to enhance this sector, we should do so”, the Senate president said.

He noted that the establishment of the fund will make available some funds for the sector to do better and thrive, adding that same will boost the Nigerian economy and provide the much needed food security in the country.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said the current contribution of the agricultural sector to the GDP stands at between 15 and 20 per cent with the potential for improvement.

Adamu lamented that the utilisation of arable land in the country is only 40 per cent, while agriculture is still largely subsistence with minimal value addition.

“It will be difficult to achieve agricultural productivity and value addition required for industrial development without sustainable funding.

“The fact that the current budgetary system will continue to be improved but it will be insufficient to generate the necessary transformation in the agricultural sector.

“One of the first steps that need to be taken to ensure adequate funding for the agricultural sector is the enactment of this bill in order to pave way for the creation of a mega-agency to manage viable and sustainable sources of agricultural financing.”

The agric sector was the major driver of the economy of the First Republic. That was when the groundnut pyramid of Kano, palm oil from the east and cocoa from the west held sway for a competitive regional government of the federation.

Things however changed when the black gold, oil, was discovered. The agric sector was relegated while the nation regaled in its new found gold.

This fact accounts for the fact that despite its vast potential, the sector remained bedeviled by several problems including small and fractionalised land ownership, inadequate inputs, poor yield, low literacy among farmers, lack of training, poor seed variety, inadequate storage capacity, and poor transportation infrastructure.

Others are rural-urban migration, poor access to finance, limited knowledge or use of emerging technology, high cost of equipment, access to market, poor sale and distribution network, and weak value chain. Nigeria reportedly loses 32 per cent of crops produced annually due to broken value chain.

The prevailing practice in most areas across the country is that of one person taking on multiple roles in agriculture. For instance, a farmer produces the seeds, grows the seed, harvests the crops, processes and sometimes transports the harvested crops to the market. At times, he gets the final consumer.

Combining the entire chain not only reduces efficiency, it accounts for wastages. If there is a clear understanding of division of labour or the application of value chain mechanism, the farmer would gain more from his labour. The creation of specialised producers, transporters, processors, aggregators and marketers improves productivity, increases profitability as well as boosts wealth creation for all concerned stakeholders.

Source: https://thenationonlineng.net/leveraging-technology-to-boost-food-security/

Nanono: Agric Mechanisation Way Forward for Nigeria

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono has emphasised that agricultural mechanisation is the only way forward if the government must develop the sector and create the needed jobs for the teeming youths.

He said as crucial as the agro-processing zones are to development, earlier attempts by previous administrations to ensure agro-processing commenced in the country never came to fruition for over a decade.

Speaking at the opening of the Special Agro- Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) inception workshop recently organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), he noted that issues bordering on land, water resources, relevant manpower and the level of mechanisation must be addresses before successes of the zones could be guaranteed, adding that, “You may have clusters but nothing to process.”

Nanono, also said issues relating to research on good seedlings, and extension workers to monitor progress were crucial to realising the potential of the proposed agro-processing zones.

He stressed that mechanisation remained the cardinal principle to move the country forward in agriculture.
The minister said SAPZs remained a major strategy in the economic diversification programme of the current administration and repositioning for sustainable economic growth and development.

He said that the plan was to develop the SAPZs within a period of three years across the country in areas where core economic value can be unleashed for the benefit of the rural population, adding that agricultural mechanisation would be the main vehicle for strategically implementing the SAPZ programme on an intense scale.

Essentially, he said SAPZs are to be built around brownfields – areas with developed and existing infrastructure such as rails, roads, power and irrigation systems, is being developed with the support and collaboration of the AfDB and financiers like International Finance Corporation (IFC) and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

The core implementing agencies including the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the Bank of Industry, and Bank of Agriculture among others classified into four cluster groups to appraise critical commodities in the value chain and proffer the way forward.

Nanono, said based on discussions with the Bank, the federal government as part of the on-going reforms in the agriculture sector has requested the support of the AfDB in the development of six SAPZs across the country during the next three years.

He said the Initiative focuses on priority commodities including those that top the list of food imports into Nigeria; have the potential to provide quality employment to a large number of people especially youths; reduce urban and rural poverty and lift 100 million people out of poverty; have the most potential for boosting export revenue through agro-processing value addition and will revive past, valuable, agro-industrial assets among others.

source: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/02/26/nanono-agric-mechanisation-way-forward-for-nigeria/

Kano Farmers Hail Anchor Borrowers Programme, Seek Increased Funding for Agriculture

Farmers in Kano State have hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) ongoing Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) but tasked government to increase funding for the agriculture sector.

They said this is to ensure increased productivity and galvanise the drive to make Nigeria food sufficient by 2030, in line with the 2030 zero-hunger agenda.

The chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Farouk Rabiu, and other farmers spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in Kano.

In 2015, the Nigeria government introduced the ABP through which loans and farm inputs are given to small and medium scale farmers in order to boost agricultural output.

Mr Rabiu said ABP has helped more farmers to go into agriculture as a business, and contribute to meeting up with the consumption need of the Nigerian populace.

He said the programme has also helped farmers to be more competitive, as their productivity is expected to increase greatly.

He said AFAN was enjoying the support of the federal government through the ABP.

He called on the government to ignore calls for stopping the programming, saying those making the calls are not aware of the progress being made by the farmers.

Many of the farmers who benefitted from the ABP across Nigeria have defaulted in the payment of their loans.

The AFAN boss, however, said it is not true that farmers had refused to pay back the loans. He said the ABP has helped farmers to increase farm yields, especially in rice farming “where we now produce 95 per cent of rice eaten in the country and are creating more jobs in the country through its value chain.”

Mr Rabiu said instead of spending one trillion naira annually on the importation of wheat from Russia and America, the government should grant the request of farmers to fund the Wheat Anchor Borrowers Programme.

He said with N20 billion, the programme would cultivate 100,000 hectares of land for wheat production, and create one million direct and indirect jobs in Nigeria.

“We urge the government to fund the wheat farmers which is part of the commodity targeted by the programme.

“Nigerians are impatient with farmers, expecting immediate success, which is not possible. It takes a process to achieve the expected success,” he said.

Mr Rabiu said the support of the programme has enabled farmers to produce more. “This has helped us to crash the price of some food commodities in Nigeria,” he said.

Also speaking, the chairman of Apex Smallholder Farmers, Musa Kura, called on the government to increase its funding for the sector.

“if inputs can get to farmers on time, farmers will be able to plan ahead of the planting season and also increase productivity all year round,” he said

However, another farmer, Saadu Ali, said the issue of input has been a major challenge for him as a farmer. He said the government is yet to meet the need of farmers in that respect, as most times inputs arrive late, which has made him lose so much over the years.

“Government should be proactive in its drive by ensuring that farmers get the best of inputs for planting at the right time,” he said.

Reference: https://allafrica.com/stories/202002250033.html

NIRSAL facilitates N102b to stimulate agric, creates 400,000 jobs

The Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has confirmed that it has facilitated over N102 billion as loans from commercial banks since its inception across the various agricultural value chains in the country.

NIRSAL Plc, a wholly-owned corporation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is a $500 million non-bank financial institution specifically designed to redefine, measure, re-price and share agribusiness-related credit risk.

By its mandate, NIRSAL is not a lending institution but was created to stimulate the flow of affordable finance and investments into fixed agricultural value chains. This, it does, through fixing of agricultural value chains, building long-term capacity and institutionalising incentives for agricultural lending leveraging its five strategic pillars namely: Risk Sharing, Innovative Insurance Technical Assistance, Incentive Mechanism, and Rating.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja, Aliyu Abdulhameed, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NIRSAL, said the company serves as a catalyst that enables providers of finance and investment, lend and invest in agribusinesses leveraging on its credit risk guarantees and risk management products, tools, techniques, methodologies and strategic partnerships.

He said NIRSAL had within a short period of time achieved, among others, the Development of Area Yield Index Insurance for the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

Abdulhameed said in a bid to further de-risk Nigeria’s agriculture industry for investors and financiers, NIRSAL as the Agricultural Finance Risk Management Corporation of the CBN had dimensioned the entire agricultural value -hain into four segments: The Pre-upstream, Upstream, Midstream, and Downstream.

He disclosed that NIRSAL had developed and deployed appropriate de-risking strategies that speak to the entire risk universe as they affect both the agricultural and agriculture finance value chains.

Since its establishment in 2016, he said NIRSAL had paid out N4.6 billion as claims to providers of finance (Deposit Money Banks) on Credit Risk Guarantees that crystallised. An additional N1.2 billion, he said, had been paid to prudent borrowers as interest drawbacks who have found their cost of funds and businesses boosted as a result.

NIRSAL’s goal, according to Abdulhameed, is to expand insurance uptake by primary producers from 0.5 million to 3.8 million by 2026 and continually develop insurance products that will give financial institutions and Agricultural Value Chain players the comfort they need to lend to the agricultural sector while building the capacities of underwriters.

NIRSAL is currently leading a consortium of agricultural insurance underwriters to strategically transition their product focus from indemnity-based insurance to Area Yield Index, Revenue Index, Hybrid Index and finally to the NIRSAL Comprehensive Index Insurance product. This suite of innovative products does not only provide compensation to farmers based on the cost incurred but also covers projected earnings.

Source: https://guardian.ng/news/nirsal-facilitates-n102b-to-stimulate-agric-creates-400000-jobs/

Driving Palm Oil production

The drive to achieve backward integration in the agricultural sector, led the country to introduce the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) in 2015. The initiative was to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in processing and small holder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities.

This, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, was a renewed focus by the central bank to support improved growth in the agriculture and manufacturing sector in Nigeria.

According to him, the initiative was clearly in line with the federal government’s determination to diversify the revenue base of the economy away from its over reliance on crude oil.

Among the focus agricultural produce under the ABP was oil palm. In the 50s, Nigeria was a world leader in oil palm cultivation. Then, the country was controlling about 43 per cent of global oil palm market, and the produce then accounted for about 15 per cent of the country’s total exports. Today, the nation has shifted from a global player to an import dependent nation, even as it strives to meet its local demand, a situation experts say was worrisome.

Recognising the negative impact of neglecting a critical sub-sector within the agricultural value chain, Emefiele, last year said despite the availability of over three million hectares of farmland for palm oil cultivation, production remains low at two tonnes per hectare, relative to a global benchmark of 25 tonnes per hectare.

He also said today, Nigeria is a distant fifth among leading producers of palm oil and barely produces up to three per cent of the global supply of palm oil, with an estimated production of 800,000 metric tonnes of palm oil, while countries like Malaysia and Indonesia produce 25 million and 41 million tonnes of palm oil respectively.

Emefiele, had put the country’s total domestic palm oil demand and consumption at 2.5 million while local production capacity is only 1.25 million metric tonnes.
According to him, the strategic potential of the agricultural sector and its value chain in an economy, if well harnessed, could boost rural employment generation, ensuring food security and foreign exchange conservation through reduced imports.

The apex bank governor noted that of particular interest to all the stakeholders should be how to improve the country’s oil palm industry, adding that oil palm is an important tree crop with immense economic importance as its products are important source of affordable edible and non-edible oils for domestic and industrial uses.
However, despite its potentials, Emefiele expressed concerns about the challenges facing the Nigerian palm oil industry.

He said the palm oil industry’s further growth and contribution to the national economy were being threatened by inadequate local production and continued reliance on imports.
Giving some backgrounds on the recent developments in the oil palm sector in Nigeria, he explained that the journey to revive the oil palm sector began with the discovery that over $500 million of the country’s scarce foreign exchange was being expended on the importation of palm oil to meet identified the demand gap of 1.25 million metric tonnes.

Source: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/02/20/driving-palm-oil-production/

USAID to lend Nigerian agribusiness owners $15.7m

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed the sum of $15.7 million of investment into the country’s agribusiness ecosystem in its Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity.

The investment is expected to create a free bottle-neck in accessing funds by owners of Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in the agriculture sector and create an enabling platform for high earners in the sector.

According to Adam Saffer, chief of party and managing director, the programme is centred on agribusiness owners producing commodities such as rice, cowpea, soybean, maize and those in aquaculture; he made this known at Ebonyi State, recently.

Also, states where these commodities are predominantly produced such as Ebonyi, Benue, Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Cross River and Delta states are where the programme will be held for the next five years.

“In line with the U.S. and Nigerian governments’ commitment to growing the non-oil based economy, this activity is pursuing a unique, robust business-centred strategy to increase the depth, breadth, dynamism and competitiveness of Nigeria’s agribusiness sector.

“The activity is designed to create an improved environment by working toward four interrelated objectives: mitigate obstructive policies to make it easier to do business in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, broaden access to finance and promote investment opportunities in agriculture, and strengthen the capacity of agribusiness to expand and scale up operations,’ he said.

Kenneth Ugbala, secretary to Ebonyi State Government who represented the governor expressed confidence that USAID’s initiative which is in line with state’s agriculture policy which will enable the indigenes in the state to go into agriculture.

“Even for us in the government sector, it is a near capital offence to not have a farm and that is why the Governor directed that even the civil servants should go to the farm and they call major address because politics is gradually taking our minds from our mainstay.

Agribusiness owners in the country are currently facing hard times in the area of securing local credit facilities, which has limited their growth. Experts say agribusiness would need more funding to be able to produce optimally and take advantage of the country’s huge market.

Reference: https://www.businessamlive.com/usaid-to-lend-nigerian-agribusiness-owners-15-7m/

Nigeria has potential to feed Africa’s 1.2bn people – Ecobank

Ecobank says Nigeria has the capacity to feed Africa’s estimated 1.2 billion people if it harnesses the gains of the agricultural value chain.

According to the bank, success in Nigeria’s agricultural sector means the reduction in the demand for foreign exchange to import food items into the country and the development of the agribusiness value-chain with a resultant effect in the creation of a new breed of entrepreneurs as well as jobs for the teeming population.

Ade Ayeyemi, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), stated this on Thursday at the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit in Lagos. The summit had its theme “Unlocking Productivity and Investment Opportunities Across Nigeria’s Agribusiness Value Chain”

According to Ayeyemi, Ecobank decided to create a platform of a Summit to enable thought-leaders who are passionate about agriculture and its importance to Nigeria’s economy to put heads together and find ways to maximize the significant potential gains of boosting agribusiness in Nigeria.

He said Ecobank works with various governments and businesses within its footprint to provide support in harnessing and mining value from the huge natural resources across the continent. “The success of this Summit and its objectives is therefore important to Ecobank, as we do know Africa remains fully committed to contributing to its economic development – a core objective of our founders”.

Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Nanono affirmed that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to finding a lasting solution to issues bothering on food security affecting the country.

Nanono who was represented by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri also stressed on the need for viable synergy and collaboration between relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector, so as to further promote its contribution to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the country.

“The aim of this submit is indeed very apt as it would contribute on creating a sustainable economy through the development of rural agricultural enterprises. It is gladdening that this forum has brought together small-holders, input dealers, agro-processors, development finance agencies, policy makers and the captains of industries under one roof to discuss the problems and challenges facing the sector, with the view to finding solutions and way forward.

“This summit also marks another milestone attraction in the journey of economic diversification in line with the vision of the economic recovery growth plan of the current administration of his Excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari, to boost agricultural production prosperity, promote innovative technologies and investment in the agricultural sector, in order to achieve poverty reduction and job creation.

“Nigeria’s potentials and prospects, makes the agricultural sector a pilot for economic stabilization, diversification and growth in the country. Indeed, the sector is a major contributor to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributing about 27 percent to the GDP and the biggest in job creation in the non-oil sector.

“As you are aware, the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari is committed to finding a lasting solution to addressing the issues of food security in the country, as well as encourage local farmers to produce more and better-quality food for all. The aim was to restore the glory of the country’s agricultural sector, which before the oil-boom was we all know, was the main driver of Nigeria’s economy.

“Let me also reiterate, that under the current dispensation, the agriculture sector has engineered more farmers for providing the required raw materials for the development of the agro-allied industry in the country.

“With the noticeable growth in production in agriculture, agricultural and food sector, The has been on stimulating agricultural export, to increase our foreign exchange earnings. In doing this, we are giving attention to meeting the requirements of not only the locals, but also international market.

“At present, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is promoting and supporting the development of special agro-industrial processing funds, in collaboration with the African Development Bank (ADB) for value addition, import substitution, job creation and international market. Commitment and support would continue to be given to the areas of promoting foreign and local enterprise to advance level of credit and investment in agriculture as a veritable step to diversify the economy.

“Within the overall sets of policy principles, the federal government is concentrating on providing an enabling environment and enabling playgrounds for stakeholders at all levels, to enhance investment and capital flow into the sector,” he said.

The maiden Ecobank Agribusiness summit in partnership with Vanguard Newspapers had exhibitors and hundreds of participants from within and outside the country in attendance.

Source: https://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2020/02/13/nigeria-has-potential-to-feed-africas-1-2bn-people-ecobank/

Nigeria’s bet on agriculture

“I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”

A memorable statement from Buhari’s Inaugural speech during his swearing-in ceremony. He made is clear that he will be a man of the people without risk of influence. When it was time to talk about the economy, he stated how the government will address the country’s unemployment problem “frontally” through the revival of agriculture. 

Revival is an appropriate term. 

By Nigeria’s independence in 1960, its largest industry was agriculture, with cocoa dominating in the West, oil palm in the East and groundnut reigning supreme in the North. Nigeria was the world’s largest producer and exporter of the ever-common palm oil with a global share of over 40% in the 1960s. Today, that share is less than 2%. In 1965, agriculture was responsible for 70% of employment and export cash crops, in particular, contributed to 62% of foreign exchange and 66% of GDP. 

Agriculture’s decline in Nigeria came soon after the petroleum boom. The overvalued naira, combined with the sectoral shift towards the new cash cow meant agriculture was no longer priority numero uno.

According to the latest GDP figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), agriculture accounted for 29% of Nigeria’s real GDP in the third quarter of 2019. However, the sector is still responsible for most of our labour force, with a share of just under 50%. Given the potential impact the sector can have on the population’s means of income, it is unsurprising that the agriculture industry would be a priority for any Nigerian government. The World Bank estimated that Nigeria needs to create between 40 and 50 million additional jobs between 2010 and 2030; it’s hard to see how that can be done without agriculture having its say.

The government also has an eye on the sector for other reasons. Self-sufficiency through agriculture (a goal of the Buhari administration) directly impacts food insecurity, an important problem in a country where food poverty half of the population.

Protectionist policies 

To boost agriculture and indeed the rest of the economy, Buhari and other Nigerian Heads of States have looked to restrict competing foreign imports. Sometimes it goes as far as closing borders for all goods which Buhari has done twice. In most instances of major protectionist policies, agriculture is in the spotlight. 

Closing the borders is visually representative of protectionist policies that remain very attractive to the Nigerian government. The rationale is that restricting foreign competition will incentive or force consumers to patronise local producers and also nudge more local producers to invest given the higher chance of success without foreign competition. Campaigns like “Buy Naira to Grow the Naira” and “eat what we grow” are attempts to convince Nigerians to support their own. 

This idea isn’t inherently a Nigerian one; globally, agriculture industries are heavily supported. Countries like the United States and members of the European Union (EU) are known for providing a range of subsidies/grants to local agriculture producers and restricting foreign suppliers with high trade barriers. As a result, foreign agriculture suppliers have struggled to compete in the EU. 

But restricting foreign suppliers is not the way to fully enhance the sector. There are fundamental issues “on ground” that must also be addressed. 

On-ground policies

In 2016, the government put out the Agriculture Promotion Policy which laid a roadmap for its approach to the agriculture sector. The sector’s core issues were identified and policies to address them were clearly stated. In principle, the government sought to boost productivity in the sector by improving farming inputs such as fertilisers and promoting better farming techniques like including irrigation and mechanisation. Additionally, there was a big push to improve access to credit, which is where the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has come in alignment with the overall government’s objectives. 

To boost productivity, one of the main policies deployed is the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI). On the program, the government supplies farmers with discounted fertilisers which have been blended using a mix of locally and foreign-sourced inputs from Morocco and Europe. Progress has been made: fertiliser consumption is at a record high and the fertilisers are now available to farmers at ₦5,500 per bag, from ₦9,000 per bag. 

To provide access to credittheAnchor Borrowers Programme was born: its objective is to provide smallholder farmers with single-digit loans to unlock financing constraints faced by poorer farmers. Between 2015 and 2018, ₦174 billion had been disbursed to close to a million farmers. In that time, the CBN estimates that over 8 million indirect jobs have been created. However, concerns over corruption and repayment are beginning to surface. The total repayment as at the end of 2018 stood at ₦21 billion. Recently, there have been conflicting reports surrounding the CBN potentially suing rice farmers in Kebbi for defaulting on a ₦17 billion repayment.  

Many other programs exist across the government policy package but there is a question on what cumulative impact they have had on the wider economy. 

So where are we?

It has been four years since the Agricultural Promotion Policy was announced, so where do thing stand today?

On the productivity side, yield (crop output per unit of land) hasn’t changed much and is still below global and African averages. Without improvements in yields or productivity, output gains from agriculture could simply be down to spending more on inputs—like spending more hours on the field or using more land area. The key to unlocking agriculture is by becoming more efficient such that we can make more with the same level of capacity. 

In terms of the macroeconomic outlook of the sector, growth has slowed. Latest NBS figures put the growth of the sector at 2%, much lower than an average 4% growth it experienced even through the recession in 2016. The Buhari administration’s own target was 6%-12% between 2016 and 2020. These numbers are pretty far off, partly due to Nigeria’s overall economic slowdown.

From a cursory reading of the Agricultural Promotion Policy, the government correctly identified the constraints facing the agriculture industry and the right policy framework to address it. However, as with everything government related, implementation was a different beast.

A good place to start would be a government-led assessment of their own policy and a commitment to seeing it through—what can be done to speed up growth? Currently, there is no publicly available report on the APP or research to review the government’s policies and targets. Instead, it seems our policymakers think the best way forward is more of the same. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono predicts Nigeria will be a rice exporter by 2021 if it continues on its current path because of the border closure. Unfortunately, a border closure won’t build storage facilities, roads or provide power. If the Buhari administration wants an agriculture sector that will boost the economy, it will have to commit to doing the dirty work needed to fix the problems they acknowledged exist. 


‘Drive agric revolution’, minister tells youth

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has tasked the Nigerian Youths to be the driver the Nigeria Agricultural revolution, saying with 70 per cent of country’s population being youth, there is hope of a greater Nigeria.

The Minister gave the charge while receiving a delegation of The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Youth Entrepreneurs (NYE), led by its National Chairman, Alhaji Muhammad Adamu Muhammad in his office in Abuja last Thursday.

Nanono in a statement sign by Ezeaja Ikemefuna, for the director, Information, Ministry of agriculture and rural development, noted that the challenge of feeding the growing population and creating a robust economy, food security and job creation would be a mirage without the youth being fully  involved  in the Mechanization of the Agricultural sector.

He observed that, “there are three fundamental issues in the Agric sector on which the desired transformation can become a reality, namely; Mechanization, Research for Good Seeds and Effective Extension Workers’’.

The Minister tasked the youth to drive the Mechanization process, ‘’ the youth should drive the new agricultural mechanization process  in Nigeria, because the future belongs to them,  therefore  you must be focus and ambitious to achieve this great objective’’.

He informed that the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammad Buhari has put in place a 4 year Agricultural Mechanization Programme for Nigerians and that the Ministry I’d determined to vigorously pursue it.

Earlier in his address, the President of NYE, Alhaji Muhammad Adamu Muhammad informed that the NACCIMA Youth Council is a vibrant and empowered council that enhances youth empowerment for self-actualization nationwide. The council educates and trains youths with the knowledge and skills of business and entrepreneurship, to equip them for effective participation in sustainable national development’’

 Muhammad further said that ‘’ the youth contributions in all spheres of life are enormous; we are the engine room of our present and future economy and shall continue to provide economic growth and development through our active participation and engagement in the socio-economic activities of our dear country.”

The delegation included Youth Entrepreneurs in Agriculture, Industry and ICT.