The 6thAPRnet/IFPRI/USAID/MSUNational multi-stakeholder forum was held at the Newton Park Hotel and Resort, Wuse zone 4, Abuja on Thursday, 29thAugust, 2019. The theme of the Forum was: “Towards a sustainable Agricultural led Growth for Economic Growth and Recovery in Nigeria”. The Forum was organized in collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) andMichigan State University (MSU). A total of 68 participants were in attendance.
Participants at the forum included the following: Representative(s) of IFPRI, Feed the Future/USAID-Nigeria Agricultural Society of Nigeria (ASN), agricultural professionals and professors drawn from the universities (the academia),Agricultural Research Institutes, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Nigerian Women Agro-Allied Farmers Association (NIWAAFA), Farmers, Media, Entrepreneurs,Technical Departments of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Stakeholders in Agricultural sector led by a Senator of the Federal Republic and President of Nigerian Agricultural Stakeholder Council (NASC).
The Permanent Secretary (PS), FMARD Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar was ably represented byDirector, Planning and Policy Coordination, Mr. Nasir Adamu, who also was represented by an Assistant Director (Research) Mr. J.E.Itodo. FtF/USAID-Nigeria was represented by Dr. Samba Kawa, Feed the Future Team Lead while IFPRI was represented by Dr Bedru Balana, Acting Programme Leader, Nigeria. The APRNet President welcomed all participants to the events after which he enumerated the achievements of APRNet in capacity building and bridging policies with research in Nigeria since 2009. He then set the tone for the policy dialogue after acknowledging all who made efforts to make the event successful. In his message, the Permanent Secretary urged the stakeholders to effectively brainstorm and come up with a very robust outcome that will enhance policy implementation of the government towards agricultural development and competitiveness in the context of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), while he also commended APRNet and other partners that made the forum to come up. He therefore wished, on behalf of the Ministry, all the participants successful deliberations, while he also assured all that the discussions in the forum will be treated with all attention it deserved as soon as all necessary handing over/briefing to the new ministers are complemented.
Other goodwill messages were delivered by the Representative of IFPRI, USAID Feed the Future Team Lead, the President Agricultural Society of Nigeria (ASN), the President of Nigerian Women Agro-Allied Farmers Association (NIWAAFA), and the President of Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE) amongst others.Goodwill messages were received alongside the APRNet’s President address which underscored the significance of the agricultural sector in Nigerian economy.
The lead paper was presented by Barrister Ken Ukaoha, President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs) on the topic: “The African Continental Free Trade Agreement and the Matters arising in the agricultural sector”. The paper set the stage for discussions on the challenges confrontingthe sector and the stakeholders and highlighted the inherent opportunities in the AfCFTA thereby advising on the need for the government to speedily galvanize a proactive policy intervention with focus to invest in research and improved technologies and facilities that will give preservation to crops and livestock produce in a timely manner, especially perishable produce.
The plenary session harvested experts’ opinions and perspectives on the way forward for the sector. Among the discussants were: Senator Alloysius Etok (Interim Chairman - Nigerian Agricultural Stakeholders Council);, Mrs. Lizzy Igbini (Leader of Nigerian Women Agro-Allied Farmers); Mr. Ayeni Oladehinde (Publisher/ Managing Director, Food Farm News); Prof. Ibsime Etela (Professor of Animal Science, University of Port Harcourt); Dr. Victor Okeme (Financial Consultant); Dr. M. Ishaq (ASN President); Dr. Godwin Asumugha (Director NRCRI, Umudike); Dr Okey G. Ani (representing Private commercial farmers) and Alh. A. S. Argungu (Chair, Anchor Borrower Scheme, Kebbi State).
The plenary session also took a cursory look at the Agricultural sector’s going forward and noted that policy inconsistency was a major impediment for under development of the sector. The experts, thus advised the incoming administration, particularly the FMARD to institute a committee that will understudy the APP (Green Alternative Policy of Agriculture) that will expire by 2020 to be upgraded to be able to meet the reality of the challenges facing the sector with respect to African Trade agreement.
Three other young scholars presented their MSc findings during the Policy Research Seminar that followed after the Multi-Stakeholders policy dialogue.
The Forum identified the following
i) ACKNOWLEDGED the fact that the timing of the meeting of APRNet coincided with the peak period of the handing over ceremony and the briefing of the Honorable Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Sabo Nanono and the Honorable Minister of State Mustapha Baba Sheuri. It was also noted that the Director Planning who is also the institutional representative of APRNet and the second Vice President in the Executive Council, were ably represented.
ii) Raised concern that the population of Nigeria is currently increasing and stands approximately at over 200 Million people and it is one of the fastest growing countries in the world and hence the need to addressProduction, Processing, Storage as well as off-take/ Trade and competitive marketing requirements.
iii) APPLAUD the dedication of the Executive Council of APRNet towards consistently hosting this Technical Policy Review meetings having in mind inputs of stakeholders, as well as the Donor agencies towards making this forum to come up with evidence-based policy assessment of the sector.
iv) COMMENDED the achievements so far recorded by the present administration in the implementation of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) especially the evolving small and medium Agri-business enterprises towards economic diversification, food self sufficiency, Value addition, Employment generation, Wealth creation, Import substitution and Export promotion.
v) COMMENDED IFPRI and USAID/Feed the Future for their continuous support to APRNet programme that are designed to create more awareness to the stakeholder’s agricultural policy and its implementation.
vi) NOTED the role of APRNet as a veritable platform that has the capacity to mobilize and bringing together Policy makers, Stakeholders, Scientist and Professionals in the Agricultural sector to brainstorm and set agenda for the new leadership through this independent forum in synergy with the policy makers.
vii) NOTED that the stakeholders must be encouraged to come together and lend their voice to the policy process having participated at the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) and variously participated in the articulation of 2016 – 2020 Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP).
viii) NOTED that increase in agricultural productivity is the key determinant for socio-economic transformation, livelihood improvements, food security and improved income status of Agricultural Stakeholders in Nigeria having in mind that at the outset of the APP and Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) whose focus was derived from syndicated studiesrevealing an in-balance between Agricultural productivity and the population growth ratesin accordance with the Thomas Malthus (Malthusian Economic Prediction)of 1798 which tend to agree or relate with the reality ofthe widespread food insecurity, violent clashes and poverty across the globe.
ix) Noted that media engagement mostly take place towards the end of the implementations of agricultural projects, and thus advocated for better integration of the media into projects from the onset for better communication and reporting project’s development objectives, beneficiaries, achievements, challenges, and progresses .
x) URGED the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to take advantage of this platform to regularly engage stakeholders as well as Policy makers in the (technical departments) with their counterparts in the Academia (the Universities and Colleges of Agriculture) and most importantly the Agricultural Research System for effective impact assessment of the Agricultural Policy and policy outcomewith special reference to:
a) Socio-economic Impact Assessment of the Agricultural Policy implementation across the country through systemic collaboration of APRNet with the Planning and Policy Coordination Department of FMARD.
b) Evolving a well-articulated Monitoring and Evaluation to track Agricultural production performance and generating evidence-based data sets (Statistics) for policy assessment and feedback which through partnership with APRNet and its members across the Faculties, Colleges and Departments of Agriculture in the Universities, Research Institutes across Nigeria becomes seamless for periodic documentation.
c) Work towards operationalizing effective Value Chain approach with intervention framework to Food production in Nigeria taking into consideration the regional and continental agreement such as the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in the context of the APP which is set for review alongside the Economic Recovery and Growth plan.
11.0 To this end, the forum kindly seeks the consideration of the Honorable Minister to the following:
i) Approve some regular meetings with this platform of APRNet for periodic engagements.
ii) Facilitate a generic policy Research feedback mechanism on all the intervention of the sector by approving syndicated policy assessment framework with APRNet through the Planning and Policy Coordination P&PC Department of the Ministry.
iii) Kindly maintain an open door policy more than ever before so as to reach out on continuous basis with stakeholders for direct feedback without the usual bureaucracy as experienced in the recent past.
iv) Engage continuously with the Colleges, Universities and the Research Institutes directly making directed demands on the system for the numerous research results available in the Research Systems and to support the Institutions to disseminate these findings through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement to augment funding for research activities alongside the required internal capacity building with syndicated studies using the platform of the network.
v) Conduct an assessment of the Nigerian Agricultural Value Chain and agricultural sector readiness in collaboration with APRNet to generate data for planning interventions that will prepare Nigeria for food sufficiency and export competitiveness in the face of AfCFTA regime in Nigeria.
vi) FMARD and Private Sector Institutions in Nigeria should strengthen research institutions, faculties and colleges of agriculture to conduct research that will bring needed technology and innovations in agricultural value chain especially in commodities that Nigeria has comparative advantages so as to get Nigerian agricultural sector ready for exports and competitions that come with AfCFTA.
12.0 The forum welcomed the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Honorable Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, andexpressed their profound gratitude to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces for appointing the duo to serve in the most important sector of the economy alongside their intrinsic andextrinsic capacities to deliver on the sector’s mandate which affects directly over 80% of the populationin terms of jobs and wealth.
13.0 After due consideration, the Forum unanimously agreed to do a letter congratulating the Honourable Minister and the Honourable Minister of State and request for a courtesy visit on or before the events of the World Food Day for 2019.
Done this 29th Day of August, 2019
Signed: Anthony O. Onoja (PhD) Bedru B. Balana (PhD)
President, APRNet Acting IFPRI-Nigeria Programme Leader
Signed: Senator Alloysius Etok
Interim Chairman, Nigerian Agricultural Stakeholders Council