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.


FG To Kickstart Mechanised Agriculture In 632 Local Govt Areas

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has said that the Ministry would kickstart Agricultural mechanisation programme in 632 Local Government Areas in the country.

The policy according to him would ensure that Nigeria achieved food security, job creation and economic growth.

The Minister made this known when he received in audience the Governor of Benue, Dr Samuel Ortom, in his Abuja office over the weekend.

Nanono noted that the initiative is expected to involve a full technology package transfer that would cover all stages, from agricultural production to industrial processing and down to marketing.

The Minister informed that the programme would affect 632 Local Government Areas (LGAs), across the country. According to him,  “Each LGAs will have service centres and each centre will have a brand new tractor fully equipped with the admin and IT workshop, there would also be stores for seeds, fertilizer and excess produce. With these, we will link farmers up with processing industries especially clusters at the local government producing the same thing will be provided with processing plants.”

The Minister informed that the programme would affect 632 Local Government Areas (LGAs), across the country. According to him,  “Each LGAs will have service centres and each centre will have a brand new tractor fully equipped with the admin and IT workshop, there would also be stores for seeds, fertilizer and excess produce. With these, we will link farmers up with processing industries especially clusters at the local government producing the same thing will be provided with processing plants.”

He pointed out that the mechanisation services would be driven by the people in the Local Government Areas and he also encouraged individuals and groups to come up with proposals of how to manage the service centres, adding that the Federal Government will guarantee the facilities.

The Minister further explained that ‘’the investment of potential manager of the service centres may not be more than N 5-6 million, but they will own assets worth the tune of N150 million for a period of 15 years.”

Giving a breakdown how the programme will generate Income, the Minister said, “A tractor that works for an estimated N60,000 to N75,000 per day, can make an income of about N30,000-N40,000 per day after expenses and with this, the service centres can pay for the tractor in an average of 6-7 years. Mark you, the tractors can last for about 25 years.”

The Minister emphasised that “the loan we are getting can only finance 10,000 tractors, the gap for improvement in terms of bridging the gap in Agricultural mechanisation is so huge. But we hope that this will work very well so that the private sector can drive it.”

Nanono pledged that the Federal Government will partner with Benue Government “each of its LGAs will benefit. On the issue of soya beans production, we are taking a critical look into this area as a means of boosting food production and creating employment. We have enormous market potential for soya beans in China.”

In his remarks, the Governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom noted that “if you ask me, Nigeria’s major challenge is not the security problem alone, but unemployment and agriculture remains the one sector that has the capacity for creating jobs, and wealth for the teeming jobless youths. If we are able to engage the youths, we will have fewer problems in the country.”

Dr Ortom assured the Minister of the state’s commitment to partner with the Ministry, he said, “We are committed to partnering and collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure we provide food security for Nigeria and beyond. Benue State is 35,000 sq meter of land, more than 95 per cent of the land is arable and most of the food produced in the country can be produced in Benue state. And they are able to do all year round farming.”



After ratifying a new law that creates relief for small businesses through tax exemptions, the Nigerian government is considering adding tax incentives for SMEs in prioritized sectors, the trade minister said this week.

Under the new Finance Act which came into effect on February 1, small companies – with gross turnovers of not more than N25 million – are to pay zero percent in Company Income Tax, while also being exempted from making value-added tax returns on goods and services rendered.

According to Niyi Adebayo, Nigeria’s minister of industry, trade, and investment, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the agriculture, construction, and automotive industries will be getting tax and regulatory incentives which the ministry had started working on.

Similar to the tax exemptions under the new Finance Act, granting incentives for small businesses is part of the government’s efforts to enhance the ease of doing business and supporting the growth of MSMEs. If designed and implemented properly, tax incentives can attract investment to a country, ultimately leading to increased employment and a higher number of capital transfers.

An enabling environment for doing business is generally considered a huge factor in attracting global capital. Thus, such initiatives by the government would attract global investors when viewed against the backdrop of the country’s capacity for growth, the minister noted.

“The government… seeks a comprehensive approach in mobilizing capital, incentivizing priority sectors and expanding market access for local producers,” Adebayo said at a private equity summit in Lagos, without giving further details on the structure of the incentives.

Huge potential in construction, automotive sectors

Despite having huge potential to become a major driver of economic growth, poor performance of the construction industry means it contributes less than it could to GDP.

Fitch Solutions last year revised down its long-term construction growth outlook for Nigeria. From a previous forecast of 7.7 percent, it expects growth in the sector to average 4.8 percent annually to 2028. Industry stakeholders attribute the poor situation to several factors and call for deliberate government policies and regulations capable of repositioning the sector for economic growth.

Moreover, there is a need for accelerated and increased investment in the construction sector. Nigeria’s infrastructure stock currently accounts for about 20 to 25 percent of GDP, significantly lower than the global average of 70 percent. While it requires at least $100 billion annually for the next 30 years to meet infrastructure needs.

Attracting significant investment into the automotive sector could help harness Nigeria’s potential to become the hub of Africa’s automotive industry. The largely import-dependent automotive industry is already undergoing a notable transformation – several global auto manufacturers have set up shop in the country recently – driven by a deliberate policy initiated by the present administration to reduce importation of cars and increase the volume of locally-made cars.

With the global automotive industry looking for new growth opportunities, the continent’s largest economy, and by far the most populated, presents huge opportunities for investors in the automotive space encouraged by an enabling business environment.

In addition to tax incentives, the Nigerian minister said the government was modernizing bilateral investment agreements through the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission and would localize at least 40 percent of its expenditure on stipulated goods and services to facilitate local markets access for Nigeria-made products.

Nigeria: Govt Directs Stock-Taking of Agricultural Assets

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has directed all state and zonal coordinators to commence documentation of agricultural assets across the country.

Nanono, gave the directive at a meeting on monitoring and evaluation of 2019 projects in Abuja, yesterday.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the minister, who noted that there were several agricultural assets, ranging from lands and buildings, lamented that many of them were un-utilised and unaccounted for.

“We have enormous unutilised assets. They are so many that we do not even know where they are. We have land; we have buildings everywhere in this country.

“All zonal coordinators, please document our assets across the country. It is very important to know where they are and we want to know the status of these assets. Leaving them like that is a misnomer,” he said.

Nanono, urged stakeholders at the meeting to come up with a strategic paper that would enable the ministry to properly monitor and evaluate priority projects.

He said: “this interactive meeting is apt as it provides opportunity to take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the 2019 priority projects. This is to enable us strategise as we commence implementation of 2020 capital projects.

“Encumbrances to effective monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes is a challenge that must be surmounted if we must attain the mandate assigned to us.”

On efforts by the federal government to reposition the ministry, he said the federal government was not resting on its oars to ensure that critical areas of the sector were catered to.

According to him, some critical areas of concern as mentioned by President Muhammadu Buhari during his 2020 State of the Nation address on January 1, were mechanisation, extension service and livestock.

The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, called for synergy between the headquarters and the zonal, state offices as well as other stakeholders in project implementation. He directed all departments and units in the ministry to align their activities to the agriculture-specific 2019 to 2023 priority projects, programmes and deliverables.

He expressed optimism that the meeting would equip participants with best practices in monitoring and evaluation for better performance.


Nestle Nigeria, FG Collaborate to Boost Agriculture

The quest by Nestle Nigeria Plc to continue to ensure good nutrition for Nigerians and indeed the West Africa sub-region has seen it engaging the federal government in a collaboration that will boost agriculture and enhance quality of life.

The need for the collaboration came to the fore recently, when the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, undertook a familiarisation tour of Nestlé Nigeria Plc’s headquarters at Ilupeju, Lagos State.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), for over 58 years, Nestle, one of the largest food and beverage companies in Africa, has been delighting consumers in Nigeria with high quality nutritious food products.
Receiving the minister, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria, Mr Mauricio Alarcon, said: “We are very pleased with the visit of the minister.’’

“It is through this type of interaction that we can make a difference. We thank you for this opportunity to share some of our contributions toward developing the agriculture value chain.
“What we need now is the support of your ministry to scale the successes we have recorded in local sourcing and in farmer capacity building.

“We believe that this collaboration with you will make a great difference in the agricultural sector.’’
He added that the company was convinced that there were great opportunities in Nigeria, especially in the agricultural sector.

“We source 80 per cent of our products locally; 100 per cent of the maize and soya in Golden Morn are sourced locally even though it is cheaper to import.
“We do this because we believe that this is the right thing to do to ensure sustainable supplies at the right quality in the long term,” Alarcon said.
Taking the minister further through Nestle’s activities in Nigeria, he explained the company’s principle of Creating Shared Value (CSV).

He noted that CSV was built on the belief that the company would be successful in the long term by creating value, both for its shareholders and for the society.
According to Alarcon, in line with this principle, Nestle was committed to providing high quality nutritious food options while investing in rural development programmes, farmer capacity building and youth empowerment.

In his remarks, the minister underscored the need for collaboration between the ministry and Nestle, saying that he believed the company had the capacity to help Nigeria address the unemployment challenges while increasing productivity of the agricultural sector.
According to him, what Nigeria does in agriculture is not only important for the country but also for the sub-region.

“Nigeria controls over 70 per cent of the regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so what we do in the agricultural sector is not only critical but also important to our country and neighbouring countries,’’ Nanono said.
He added: “With the population of Nigeria said to be about 200 million people today and projected to reach about 400 million people in the next three decades, we must find a solution to the challenge of feeding the ever-growing population.

“Subsistence farming is not a solution to being self-sufficient as a nation. What is important is linking up the agricultural sector with the agro-allied industry to increase productivity, while helping to address the unemployment challenges we are faced with.

“Without these linkages, we will not make much progress. This is why I am happy to have selected Nestle, a key player in this sector, as the first company I will visit and I have a reason for doing this.

“It (Nestle) is a key agro-allied industry that I think can save the country from the huge unemployment gap.”
The minister explained that the government sought to embark on the mechanisation of the agricultural value chain from input to harvest and from the farm gate to market.

He said this would be the first step toward addressing the current challenges in the agricultural sector.
Nanono, noted that the intention was for this to be a private sector-driven initiative to ensure that it worked and then solicited Nestle’s involvement in this project to ensure its success.

“The next step will be to create a platform for long-term sustainable value chain development, which is what Nestle is doing right now with value chain focused local sourcing and farmer capacity building programmes.
“This is why l like this company, because this is the type of initiative that will help the country to grow,” the minister said.


Africa’s agric sector to worth $1 trillion in 2030 – AfDB

The President of the African Development Bank President (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has said that the continent’s agricultural business will worth $1 trillion by 2030.

He explained that this foresight is due to the fact that there would be a higher need to feed the expected continent’s increased population that is estimated to hit 2.5 billion by 2050, double its current 1.2 billion.

While speaking at an event in Abeokuta where he received a honorary doctorate award, Adesina said that the higher the population, the higher the need to increase food production.

“The size of food and agriculture in Africa will rise to $1 trillion by 2030. The population of Africa, now at 1.2 billion, will double to 2.5 billion by 2050. They all must eat. And only through food and agribusiness can this be achieved.

”What Africa does with food will determine the future of food, given that 65% of the arable land left to feed the world is here, Agriculture is the most important profession and business in the world,” he said.

Speaking further, Adesina commended the Nigerian Government for its promotion of agriculture and agri-business through schemes and platforms set up for the farmers. While assuring the youths of his support for Nigeria’s agricultural sector, he urged them to continue to engage in the sector and its practice in order to transform it.

Adesina spoke on how it delights him to see so many young people taking advantage of the opportunities that abound in the agriculture value chain which can be seen in the success of the Youth Employment in Agriculture initiative which was launched while he was a minister.

”From their innovations in the use of drones, food processing, packaging, transport and logistics and marketing, they are already unlocking the opportunities in agriculture,” he said as reported by New Telegraph.

He ended by calling on agricultural universities to optimize their role in linking research, innovations and technologies to farmers and the food and agriculture industry.

Nigeria: FG to provide 240 tractors under IT driven mechanisation programme

Sabo Nanono,  Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development says about 240 tractors will be provided nationwide as part of  ongoing agricultural mechanisation programme.

Nanono made the disclosure on Thursday in Gusau during a courtesy visit to Zamfara Governor as part of his one day inspection tour to the grain reserve in the state.

Nanono said the programme, which would be private sector driven, would help consolidate federal government’s efforts at ensuring food security.

He explained that the federal government’s role in the programme would be to help secure the loan for the project as well as act as guarantor.

“We are going to embark on a massive agricultural mechanisation and this will touch on 632 local governments.

“Attach to this, there will be processing tractors, about 240 of them across the country.

“I believe all the local governments in Zamfara will be affected by the innovation.


Business man Tasks Govt On Youths Participation In Agriculture

A business executive and Chief Executive Officer of ‘Farm 4 me’, Adams J. Adama, has urged governments at all levels to encourage youth participation in agriculture through Public Private Partnership.
He said that time has come for the country to embrace mechanized and large scale agriculture and deemphasize white collar jobs, saying Nigerian youths are daring, enterprising and adventurous.
Adama who made the call on Tuesday while speaking to airport correspondents, at Port Harcourt Intentional Airport, Omagwa, said that it is myth to assume that Nigerian youths are not interested in agriculture.
“They are not interested in subsistence farming as their ancestors and fathers, but are interested in mechanised and digital agriculture.
“Agriculture is one of the ventures that can truly engage Nigerians. Our youths are anti-poverty and ambitious, they would not want to end up poor like their ancestors, hence the reason for running to urban areas in search of better life.
“The duty of government is primarily to create a conducive environment for the citizens to live up to their full potentials, and it is time to beam the searchlight on the investment opportunities in agriculture in Nigeria”, he said.
On how government could encourage youths in agriculture, the agriculturist said government should finance farm equipment procurement for private companies to manage, as well as give remarkable tax exemptions to farmers and agrictech companies to encourage large scale farming.
“Free advert slots should be given to agrictech companies, farming cooperatives and farmers association to advertise their farm produce. Platforms should be created to enable farm produce be sold directly to large scale buyers at good prices.
”Government should also give financial grants to NGOs and social enterprises engaged in training small holders farmers on modern farming techniques based on global best practices.
“ Efforts should be intensified to woo foreign investors to Nigeria’s agricultural sector, and also come up with policies that give competitive advantages to local food production over imported foreign foods”, Adama said.
The agro business executive expressed optimism that Nigerian youths would embrace agriculture in their numbers if government can do all, or some of the recommended tasks.


Agriculture is the most important profession and business in the world – AfDB president

AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina has reminded students at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta that agriculture is the most important profession and business in the world.

“I am delighted to see so many of our young people engaged in agriculture arising from the Youth Employment in Agriculture initiative launched when I was minister to get the youth into agriculture as a business,” Adesina said at the university on Tuesday during its convocation ceremony.

From their innovations in the use of drones, food processing, packaging, transport and logistics and marketing, they are already unlocking the opportunities in agriculture,” he said.

The AfDB president was decorated by the university with the Doctorate of Science in recognition of his works in agriculture and food security in Africa.

He emphasised that youths have an important role to play in the continent’s economic development.

“Agriculture is the most important profession and business in the world,” Adesina said.

Adesina praised the Nigerian government on its continuous effort in targeting agriculture as one of the target industries to be self-sufficient in Nigeria.

He also pledged to continue the work of transforming Nigeria’s agriculture sector.

“The size of food and agriculture in Africa will rise to $1 trillion by 2030. The population of Africa, now at 1.2 billion, will double to 2.5 billion by 2050. They all must eat. And only through food and agribusiness can this be achieved,” he said

Adesina said the African Development Bank was spearheading efforts to feed Africa and was investing $25 billion over a ten-year period to transform the continent’s agriculture sector.

“What Africa does with food will determine the future of food, given that 65 percent of the arable land left to feed the world is here,” Adesina said

Lauding the choice of Adesina as the institution’s 2020 awardee, the Chancellor, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu, described him as a global household name whose exploits in promoting value chain addition in agricultural produce have remained unparalleled.