Nigeria has begun to prove its critics wrong as a revolution in food sufficiency following President Goodluck Jonathan’s Launch of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) in 2011 has begun. The goal is to have an additional 20 million Metric Tonnes (MT) of food to the domestic food supply by 2015 as part of its MDGs agenda and Nigeria Vision 20:2020 thereby stimulating the creation of 3.5 million jobs along he agricultural value chains.
At the recent conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors with theme: ‘Nigeria Beyond Oil: Role of Editor”, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, put forth his submissions on Nigeria’s agriculture realities in a paper titled: The Value Chain Road Map of Agriculture and Rural Development. Nigeria is now thinking beyond oil, considering the various agricultural reforms and policies by the incumbent administration.
Nigeria was food sufficient in the 1960s and was well known for its global position in major commodities such as Groundnut (40% of global supply), Palm Oil (28% of global supply), and Cocoa (18% of global supply).
The discovery of Oil led to decades of neglect of the agricultural sectors. What followed is a kind of economy where earnings from oil were frittered away; we now heavily depend on imports. A nation that does not feed itself is a threat to its own existence. “Nigeria is an agricultural power house with immense potential, possessing over 84 million hectares of arable land, of which no more than 40 percent is cultivated, over 263 billion cubic meters of water with two of the largest rivers in Africa and cheap labour force to support agricultural intensification. While potential is important, no doubt, no one eats potential
KEY ACHIEVEMENTS OF AGRICULTURAL TRANSFORMATION AGENDA
The Nigeria’s agricultural sector has evolved over time with various achievements.
Value Chain Road Map Development: Nigeria agriculture is now being treated as a money-making business and not a charitable development project”. Nigeria planned to be self sufficient in rice production by 2015 and compete with countries like Thailand, Vietnam and India.14 large scale integrated rice mills were established by private sector in two years in Kano (Umza rice), Ebonyi ( Ebonyi rice) and Benue state (Mikap rice). The rice from these areas is well packaged, long- grained, tastier and healthier than imported rice. Nigeria is making giant stride in Cassava value chain development, this is evident in the commercialization of cassava bread. Cassava Bread is healthier with a lower Glycemic Index than wheat flour bread, making it better for people allergic to gluten in wheat. It is also better for those disposed to diabetes. Nigeria has secured contracts to supply 3.2 million MT of Cassava. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has invested 2.9 million dollar in a Nigerian Research project carried out at Osun state University for the “Sustainable production and Utilization of Under-Utilized Nigeria Vegetables” which will also enhance food security in Nigeria.
Building of Strong Agricultural Policies:Having an institution with strong policies is key to economic development. Nigeria is building strong policy, institutional, investment, and infrastructure foundations for the transformation of the agricultural sector. Federal Government developed Dry season rice production policy to boost rice production in the selected states which are Kogi, Niger, Zamfara, Sokota, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Katsina and Gombe.
Growth Enhancement support scheme (GES) & Electronic Wallet Scheme: Key achievements of agricultural transformation agenda is the procurement and distribution of subsidized fertilizers, Cassava stems, a high quality seeds and other inputs via a program called
Growth Enhancement support scheme (GES)using Electronic Wallet System. This system allows farmers to receive directly subsidized electronic vouchers for their seeds and fertilizers on their mobile phone. In 2013, over 3.4 million farmers have received their subsidized inputs via the GES program and electronic wallet scheme. The GES program not only saved Federal Government 25 billion naira in 2012 but has brought back dignity to Nigerian Farmers.
More Investment, More Jobs: Over 467,000 million jobs were created for youths as a result of dry season rice paddy production. 10 million Farmers were registered in the first ever nationwide registration of farmers. Farmers now have identity cards which will enable the Ministry of Agriculture to use their biometric information to target them more effectively.Syngenta, the world’s leading seed company, has now established in Nigeria, to develop and commercialize high yielding seeds for farmers. Dangote has committed 3.5 billion dollars to set up Africa’s largest fertilizer plant. Indorama will invest 1.3 billion dollars in a fertilizer plant and NotoreCompany is expanding its current plant with an additional 1.3 billion dollars from Mitsubishi Corporation. A revolution is on its way, as Cargil, the world’s leading food manufacturer is working with Ministry of Agriculture to set up 75,000 MT cassava starch-to-sweetener plant. Crest Agro products, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Sun Bird Energy are also investing in Cassava Value chain production. Another silent revolution has just been unleashed in Wheat. It was discovered that dry land Wheat can be grown in the high lands of Plateau, Mambilla in Taraba state and Obudu in Cross river State. Work is underway to rapidly multiply these wheat varieties at the Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri.
Ayodele Farinde is an agribusiness, greenhouse and organic agriculture expert.
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