I am pleased to write the foreword to this report by the Advisory Committee on Agricultural Resilience in Nigeria (ACARN), which I had the honour of inaugurating in September 2013. It is a fulfilment of a long-held idea that could not wait any longer!
To assure food and nutritional security, eradicate rural poverty and create social stability, policies and institutions are needed to enhance the ability of individuals, households and production systems to recover from the impact of shocks and stresses on the agriculture sector induced by the changing climate. This National Agricultural Resilience Framework is written in response to that need. It offers a well-articulated national policy on short- and long-term strategies to reduce food and nutrition vulnerability, while enhancing environmental resilience.
The long-term solution to food insecurity is to raise agricultural productivity and boost food production. Nigeria embarked on a major transformation of its agriculture sector with the launch of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda in 2011 that is anchored in the philosophy of treating agriculture as a business rather than a development programme. Our goal is to add 20 million metric tonnes (MT) of food to the domestic food supply and to create 3.5 million jobs by 2015. We are driving import substitution by accelerating the production of local food staples, to reduce dependence on food imports and turn Nigeria into a net exporter of food. To this end, we have introduced several major innovations as part of the on-going fundamental restructuring of the agricultural landscape in Nigeria.
First, to assure increased agricultural productivity, it is critical that farmers get access to affordable agricultural inputs. In Nigeria, the first ever database of farmers in the country was launched as a basis for the efficient and effective distribution of subsidized seeds and fertilizers through mobile phones in 2012 as part of the Growth Enhancement Scheme. This stimulated wider markets for agricultural inputs, and agricultural productivity and food production had increased by 17 million MT by June 2014 and is expected to reach 21 million MT by December 2014, exceeding the 20 million MT target set for 2015.
Second, the agricultural revolution is being complemented with a financial revolution. We are aggressively deploying innovative financing mechanisms, such as the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending, which is providing credit guarantees to commercial banks for increased lending as well as the Fund for Agricultural Financing in Nigeria, a private fund, jointly set up by the Governments of Nigeria and Germany to raise private capital for funding in agriculture. These mechanisms will scale up the needed financing for the sector.
Third, to reduce some of the risks borne by farmers, the focus is currently on developing the mechanisms for establishing weather index-based insurance schemes for farmers. Current programmes to improve the density of operational weather stations in the country, thereby, improving weather forecasting models, are complementing this effort.
Fourth, social safety net policies are being used to reduce vulnerability, especially for women and children. These include conditional cash transfers, school feeding programmes and nutritional interventions. The “Saving one million lives” initiative targets the use of community management of acute malnutrition and integrated child feeding to reduce under-nutrition. Regional food reserves are also being supported. In 2012, for example, Nigeria contributed 32,000 MT of grains to support Niger Republic and address food shortages. Nigeria has also built up its silo storage capacity network to 1.3 million MT, making it the largest in West Africa.
Other policies in furtherance of agricultural resilience in Nigeria are contained in this report and will be progressively implemented. I salute the distinguished members of ACARN who produced this outstanding report. I am also pleased to acknowledge many other contributors within and outside Nigeria, including senior officials and advisors within my ministry and other government agencies. I wish to especially thank Professors Jimmy Adegoke and Chidi Ibe for their patriotism, selfless service and outstanding leadership as ACARN Co-Chairs.
I have no doubt that this report will have an enduring impact on agricultural production in Nigeria because it provides a clear road map for achieving resilience in the agriculture sector and offers pertinent policy recommendations that will strengthen the capacity of small- and large-scale agricultural producers to increase productivity, grow wealth and thrive in the face of growing challenges from multiple environmental stressors and changing climate.
Dr Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina CON
Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development