There is a strong link between the state of agricultural development of a nation and the nutritional status/well-being of the citizens. A nation that relies on food imports is sitting on a time bomb.
Nigeria’s agricultural sector employs the highest number of people (over 60 percent of the country’s workforce) while the Agricultural sector contributes about 40 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. The sector is yet to achieve the role expected of it.
However since the launch of the present administrations Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) the sector has received tremendous boost with new policy initiatives such as CACS, NIRSAL, GES, Staple Crops Processing Zones, etc.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Adesina Akinwumi, reaffirmed his optimism over the ongoing agric reforms when he stated that the transformation agenda of the current administration on agriculture was up and running, and targeted towards changing the face of agriculture and its perception.
The minister observed that Nigeria or Africa had no business being poor. He also remarked that “Africa is a continent endowed with enormous potential for agric, yet it is the place you see the worst form of poverty and deprivation. That is a serious challenge we must tackle. It is unfortunate that nowadays, agriculture which used to be the main source of our income has been neglected. …Africa holds the key to move agriculture forward. We are blessed with favourable weather, arable land, and sufficient water to sustain agriculture. We hold the key to feeding the world.”
It is noteworthy to comment that that the challenges which the current reforms seek to overcome are the constraints that had excluded the poor from benefiting from government interventions in the sector.
Take for example fertilizer procurement and subsidy, the real rural farmer had never benefitted from the subsidy, either directly or indirectly. However with the new reforms in fertilizer procurement and subsidy, the emergence of Cellulant Nigeria Ltd.’s platform for input procurement, coupled with the registration of farmers, the middle men that hijacked fertilizer and seeds in the past have been eliminated or reduced to the barest minimum.
The ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s agric sector are highly commendable. We are moving towards food availability and food security. The adoption of value chain financing approach to agricultural production should also be sustained. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMA&RD) should continue to create an enabling environment for policy adoption and implementation