PRESS RELEASE ON THE STATE OF NIGERIAN AGRICULTURE, JULY 2012, ABUJA
APRNet is a STAKEHOLDERS’ ORGANISATION devoted to promoting agricultural prosperity, economic growth and poverty reduction in Nigeria by using research and evidence to inform and stimulate good and effective agricultural and rural development policies and programmes.
The GOAL of make research work for end-users including policymakers, farmers, investors and practitioners.
In order to achieve this, APRNet adopts a four-pronged STRATEGY.
• APRNet facilitates, produces and/or mobilises “smart, sharp and timely” agriculture sector and policy research and analyses.
• APRNet creates and offers mechanisms and channels for communicating and utilizing research for policy and programme formulation and agricultural enterprise.
• APRNet builds bridges and connections between research, policymaking and private enterprise. Through these bridges and connections, researchers, policymakers and farmers exchange ideas and information, collectively examine policy options and reach common understanding, monitor progress, build mutual confidence and promote synergy between government and private sector.
• APRNet provides institutional building, capacity development and technical assistance services to public and private sector organisations to enhance their effectiveness and impacts in Nigeria’s agricultural and rural development.
This Press Release is designed to convey APRNet’s views and insights about current agricultural sector policies and programmes, designed to promote agricultural and economic growth, wealth generation, employment creation and food security and poverty reduction.
By the Press Release, APRNet is contributing ideas for good agricultural and rural development policies in Nigeria.
2.0 OBSERVATIONS ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGRICULTURAL TRANSFORMATION AGENDA
1. The vision, mission and strategy of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda are well articulated and timely in the country’s quest for becoming among the topmost 20 economies by the year 2020. The policies and measures show good understanding of the long-standing drawbacks, constraints and failures of the Nigerian agricultural sector and the desire to bring about positive change for the economic prosperity of the country.
2. The Agricultural Transformation Agenda is sufficiently holistic, wide-ranging. It contains integrated set of measures and policies to re-orientate and optimize the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy.
3. The prioritization of commodities for value chain development is commendable and timely. This prioritization will help to focus government’s resource allocation and align private investments to national goals and objectives of food and nutritional security, poverty alleviation, import substitution and agricultural transformation.
4. The Growth Enhancement Scheme has great potential to trigger a market-oriented, private sector led and business-oriented agricultural investment and growth in the country. The component features and design of the Scheme are good for solving the bottlenecks against private investments in agriculture, agribusiness and agricultural productivity.
5. The fertilizer subsidy reforms are rightly addressing the lingering weaknesses and bottlenecks in the fertilizer supply chain. It provides the opportunities to improve efficiency, outreach and impact of the fertilizer subsidy programme.
6. The reforms of the commodity marketing system and the proposed marketing corporations are a welcome development. For long, there has been absence of organized marketing for commodities, and it has impacted negatively on agricultural incomes and productivity.
7. The fiscal incentives and investment promotion strategies (e.g. tariff realignments, tax holidays) enunciated under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda are pragmatic measures for improving the business environment for investments in agricultural value chains in the country. In particular, the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending Scheme is a significant boost for the agricultural financing and investment landscape in the country.
8. The value chain approach to commodity development is a welcome departure from past approaches which tended to by supply-driven, without commensurate strategies to develop market linkages. The use of staple crop processing zones to target value chain development is a widely applicable international best practice and should be pursued intensively.
9. Existing cooperation and collaboration between the Federal Government and the State Governments are necessary to achieve synergy and complementarity in delivering and good policies and programmes to boost the agricultural and rural sector.
10. It is highly commendable that there is an ongoing project to produce comprehensive farmer database for the country, on a progressive basis. The database will contribute valuable information about and clarify the characteristics of the Nigerian farmer, for planning and policy implementation purposes.
11. APRNet welcomes the creation of implementation, management and supervision organs for the Agricultural Transformation Agenda. Some of the organs are the Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council [AITIC], Agricultural Value Chain Transformation Implementation Group (AVCTEG), Agricultural Industry Advisory Group (AIAG), NIRSAL Implementation Group (NIRSALEG) Agricultural Investment Transformation Implementation Group (AITEG) and Agricultural Transformation Policy Advisory Group. Effective functioning of these organs will ensure required backstopping of implementation and monitoring and evaluation feedback for greater impacts.
3.0 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE AGRICULTURAL TRANSFORMATION AGENDA
1. More attention should be given to human capacity development as a critical ingredient for agricultural growth and prosperity. Main targets for human capacity development include policy implementers, farmers, service providers and farm managers.
a. In particular, the capabilities of the Planning, Policy Analysis and Statistics Department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should be strengthened, to increase their effectiveness in policy coordination, monitoring and feedback.
2. Stronger measures and plans are needed to revamp, rationalize and modernize the agricultural extension services, to make them more responsive, effective and sustainable.
a. The State Government working and Local Governments should be mobilized and assisted to develop lasting agricultural extension and farm advisory services suitable for their circumstances, through institution building measures, adequate budget provisions and appropriate public investment approaches.
3. Federal and State governments should provide greater public policy support for building the critical services for value chain development in the country. Currently, value chains lack business and market linkage services providers because of low capacity.
a. Steps should be taken to develop a crop of dynamic service providers to play various roles in the value chain, including facilitation and brokerage, financial intermediation, market exploration, business development and input supply.
4. Greater involvement of wide range of stakeholders, particularly in the States and Local Governments, in the periodic monitoring and assessment of the implementation of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda will foster consensus, keep track of developments and ensure enduring results and outcomes.
5. There should deliberate tracking and coordination of the increasing number of agricultural lending windows and schemes across the country. The proliferation of agricultural lending windows and schemes is good for expanding the quantum of financial resources in the fund-starved agricultural sector. But, greater institutional coordination and monitoring are needed to ensure that these multiple lending schemes are delivering on their unique respective outcomes and that there are no duplicities and misapplications of lending.
a. To achieve better coordination and tracking of agricultural lending, there should be a National Agricultural Loans Database. The database will collate, archive and update the lending portfolios, sources and uses of agricultural loans and loan outcomes. It will serve as a reference framework for current and future design and implementation of private and public sector agricultural loan schemes.
6. In up-scaling the coverage of the various measures and schemes under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, care should be taken to strengthen coordination and monitoring by stakeholders, so as to avoid “unsustainable expansion” and enduring impacts.
7. The National Council on Agriculture should be strengthened to increase its institutional capability for peer review and mutual learning among the States, nation-wide tracking of agricultural policy and programmes and for maximizing synergy between the Federal and State Governments.
8. The agricultural research system should be assigned more robust roles in the agricultural transformation agenda. There should be a clearer strategy to strengthen research linkages with agricultural enterprise. Towards this goal, APRNet calls for clear-cut policies and measures for the regulation and management of intellectual property rights and commercialization of agricultural technologies and innovations.
4.0 APRNet’s UNIQUE SUPPORT TO THE AGRICULTURAL POLICY PROCESS & THE AGRICULTURAL TRANSFORMATON AGENDA
1. APRNet will work with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (including all the organs already created for the implementation, monitoring and oversight of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda), the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, research institutes, farmers, agribusiness operators, development partners, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and state and local governments to improve the availability and utilisation of research for policy formulation, programme planning and policy implementation.
a. APRNet is already creating and will continue to develop customized channels, mechanisms and platforms for collaboration, cooperation and synergy between agricultural researchers, policymakers and practitioners. This will help to achieve increased agricultural productivity, agricultural growth and poverty reduction.
2. APRNet will work with agricultural sector stakeholders to provide regular feedback on the implementation of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
a. This will be done through the research-based monitoring and feedback system called the “State of Nigerian Agriculture Reports” (SoNAR) which will be produced every year to give independent assessment of the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy.
b. The State of Nigerian Agriculture Reports will contain analysis and findings about the performance and outlook of Nigerian agriculture. Topics to be covered are, among others, agricultural production, productivity, incomes, input supply and use, agricultural market and trade, agricultural investments, budget implementation, agricultural loans, projects implementation and economic linkages. It will mirror the agricultural sector on an annual basis and serve as reference material for government, investors and farmers.
Professor Eric Eboh, PRESIDENT, APRNet