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/

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