Agriculture is an important sector of the country’s economy, it has high potentials for employment generation, food security, poverty reduction and industrialisation. The agricultural transformation agenda [ATA] of government is seen as a major tool to help progress in the areas enumerated.
The vision in the transformation strategy is to achieve a hunger free Nigeria through an agricultural sector that will drive income growth, accelerate achievement of food and nutritional security, generate employment and transform the country into a leading player in global food markets to grow wealth for millions of farmers. The agricultural transformation agenda is designed to make the agricultural sector a business project as against development project to promote private investment in agriculture, to execute integrated projects via value chain processes, generate employment, and transform Nigeria into a net exporter of agricultural commodities.
As part of the federal government of Nigeria’s effort to revamp the agriculture sector, ensure food security, diversify the economy and enhance foreign exchange earnings, the FMARD embarked on a transformation agenda with a focus on the development of agricultural value chains. The transformation action plan is focused on key aspects of value chains. They include the provision and availability of improved inputs (seed and fertilizer), increased productivity and production, as well as the establishment of staple crop processing zones. It is expected to address reduction in post-harvest losses, improving linkages with industris as well as access to financial services and markets. The transformation agenda targets rural communities particularly women, youth and farmers associations, as well as improving rural institutions and infrastructure.
The transformation agenda sets out to create over 3.5 million jobs from the rice, cassava, sorghum, cocoa and cotton value chains, with many more jobs to come from other value chains under implementation. The programme aims to provide over N300 billion of additional income for farmers. Over N60 billion is to be injected into the economy from the substitution of 20% of bread wheat flour with cassava flour. The initiative help effort to be food secure by increasing production of key food staples by 20 million tons, Rice 2MT, Cassava 17MT and Sorghum 1MT respectively.
Speaking recently during the ministerial platform for the 2012 national democracy day celebration and first anniversary of President GoodLuck Jonathan’s administration, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina explained that the action plan focuses on some priority agricultural commodities namely; rice, cassava, sorghum, cocoa cotton, maize, oil palm, dairy, beef, leather, poultry and fisheries.
The operations of the agricultural transformation agenda according to the minister are based on prioritisation of commodity value chains along comparative advantage in the six geo political zones of the country and reform in the input supply sector to stop direct government involvement in the procurement, supply and distribution of fertilizer and seeds to farmers.
Adesina said that “This involves provision of 50% support for seeds and fertilizers for farmers, empowerment of the private sector to sell their inputs directly to farmers and build their supply chains to get to rural areas as well as provision of risk sharing guarantee to leverage loans from banks for seed and fertilizer companies and agro-dealers.”
According to him “We are establishing privated sector led commodity trade and market development corporations for the various commodity value chains, which will coordinate the entire value chains in Nigeria, and enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness, while expanding and stabilising income for our farmers, we have just finalised the terms of reference for the study and will be advertising for consultants to undertake feasibility studies in the next two weeks.”
“We are working with the Central Bank of Nigeria on the introduction of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to de-risk agricultural financing and mitigate against the impact of natural disasters on losses of agricultural investments by facilitating low interest credit to farmers through commercial banks and the liberalisation of the insurance sector to increase farmers access to cost effective agricultural insurance schemes in the country. We have just negotiated the first deal of N1.7 billion to provide single digit interest financing for cassava dried cheap exporters to mop up excess cassava from the farmers” he said
He said that the ministry has established 18 Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZ) as a cluster-based value chain strategy to attract private investors set up food processing plants in areas of high food production, link farmers in clusters to food manufacturing plants, create jobs and drive rapid rural economic growth adding that operators in these staple crop processing zones will receive fiscal, investment and infrastructure incentives:
Adesina also explained that the establishment of a national farmers data base through the registration of farmers and the harmonisation of existing information/data on agricultural census and farmers cooperatives for the effective implementation of the agricultural transformation agenda.
“Use of Guarantee Minimum Price [GMP] to stabilise prices and to absorb excess output of agricultural produce and encourage increased production of commodities in a manner that would benefit the stakeholders involved in the ATA value chain process and the promotion of agricultural mechanisation through the use of farm machinery, implements, and processing machines for the production of crops, livestock and fish as well as their finished products.
“We are identifying existing and new private sector operators that will provide mechanisation support through leasing hiring and rentals to the farmers as well as the revitalisation and modernisation of agricultural extension services to empower farmers on the adoption and application of research results, technologies, and techniques for agricultural production” Adesina explained.
Filed Under: Agriculture