NIGERIAN AGRICULTURAL INSIGHTS
The Nigerian agriculture sector grew by 3.17% in Q1 2019 from 2.46% in Q4 2018 and 1.91% in Q3 2018. The first quarter of 2019 started with a positive outlook and an enabling environment for the sector to thrive. Analyzing major trends and policies in the agricultural sector, it is eminent that Nigeria has enormous potential both in human and natural resources.
Trends and Policies are constantly changing to meet specific development demands in the present Nigerian agricultural ecosystem. The country’s grazing reserves are at the point of its development and implementation phase which is expected to have a positive impact in reducing the farmer’s and herdsmen clashes, thereby increasing the productivity of regions affected by clashes.
However, the process to actualizing the much-needed development in the grazing reserves involves a multi-stakeholder agreement across various regions where these reserves are to be developed, this development may not have an immediate impact except if prioritized by the parties involved. The construction of the grazing reserves would greatly impact food and dairy production positively in the country.
Furthermore, the tomato policy which was implemented addresses issues within the value chain, this policy is aimed at boosting local producing capacity, improving the value chain process and attract formidable investment into the sub-sector. The policy is also expected to create jobs, actualize self-sufficiency in tomato production while reducing postharvest loss and discourage the importation of tomato products.
Financial Inclusion agricultural lending and credit facilities within the sector have been revitalized, but are not well structured to cater to the growing needs for finance in agriculture, this has been the major problem especially in the case of smallholder farmers, due to the volatile nature of production and seasons most commercial banks shy away from agricultural loans.
There have been intervention programs from the Federal Government and private stakeholders committed to revamp the agricultural sector and sustain the growth, the country is to profit economically from this growth through its agricultural activities and resources. However, the agricultural sector continues to experiences low budgetary allocation with 1.3% of the total 2017 budget of N7.44 trillion (NBS), 2.2% of the total 2018 budget of N9.12 trillion and, 2019 budgetary the allocation is 57.67bn.
The challenges in the agricultural sector are enormous but not limited to financial inclusion, good agricultural practice and market availability. These challenges provide diverse opportunities for private sector participation as the country seeks to diversify its economy following the fall of global oil prices by prioritizing the agricultural sector and creating an enabling environment.
Nigeria’s agricultural sector contributes 14% of Africa’s Agriculture GDP and has the capacity to grow this figures by investing 7% of annual budgetary allocation which is 3% less of Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security. The World Bank forecasts that Africa’s food market is estimated to hit US$1 Trillion by 2030 and Nigeria can partake in this growth with the right investment and political will.
Agricultural Research and Development
The need to invest in agricultural Research and Development (R&D) cannot be overemphasized as it is the foundation for innovation which drives major increase in input and output margins. If properly investment in, R&D will lead to an increase in crop yields and revenue generation of farmers in the country. Beyond the increased crop yields, R&D will provide the country with economic data that provides quantifiable evidence of the value of scientific and technological advancements in agriculture.
Beyond the economic data analysis provided, investing in agricultural R&D will address regional and global issues which include food security and nutrition. Leveraging on existing research institutes, Nigeria has the capacity to thrive regionally in R&D by gradually increasing its investment strategy to these institutions which would enable them to set up proper research centers to keep abreast with global technological trends and innovative advancements in agriculture impacting local farmers output and livelihood.
With a high propensity to increase our productivity, the question has been raised on best practices with regards to agro-processing, there have been concerns about the fact that most smallholder farmers lack the proper training on handling agrochemicals and storage of their products hence causing products like grains to have a high level of humidity which makes them unmarketable. Aflatoxins are a menace in today’s agricultural products ready for consumption and sales, this can be curtailed and managed with sensitization on best practices and use of agrochemicals.
Proper education on how value can be added to agricultural products is of the essence, although the pursuit for increased productivity is highly prioritized especially with a growing population, therefore, best practices should be inculcated in the need for products that are marketable globally.
There have been innovative actions in the private sector, for example, Diageo Nigeria, ‘’Grow with Nigeria” initiative which aims at helping improve the livelihood standard of Nigerian farmers by creating a favorable market for them. Progress was experienced by the hibiscus farmers in Jigawa state Nigeria where they recorded N3.6billion in exports for the year 2018.
The quest to increase productivity across all subsectors of agriculture is inevitable, although the process is poised with roadblocks from low credit facilities, poor agricultural practices, inadequate input suppliers, climatic conditions amongst others.
The roadblocks can be cautioned by shared innovations and partnerships between relevant key stakeholders in this sector across various value chains. The outlook for the rest of the year is positive although concerns on weather and climatic conditions have been raised by the Nigeria Metrological Agency on the delayed and early cessation of rain, evaluating this forecast positively, it has given the farmers the needed knowledge to plan their rain-fed agricultural season effectively.
- Policies should be flexible and made palatable for all to understand, considering the smallholder farmers who are the main stakeholders in the agricultural ecosystem.
- Policies should be crop and value chain specific in some cases there should be prioritization of high demand crops and value chains.
- A sustainable financial inclusion framework can be built, leveraging on the existing structure, it should cater for all especially, smallholder farmers.
- The financial inclusion framework to be built should include a value chain management technique and insurance, that supports farmers through the entire value chain.
- Investment in Research and Development should be prioritized, as it would help address problems in agriculture including agro-processing gaps.