I am delighted to welcome you to the Stakeholders Validation Workshop on the Draft Food and Agricultural Policy of Nigeria Document organized by the Ministry for consideration, fine-tuning and endorsement of stakeholders. It is a follow-up to the Honourable Minister of Agriculture’s inauguration of the Economic Policy Working Group of agricultural experts and their series of the technical consultations since September 2014. The group examined the existing policies, appraised the policy direction in place, assessed the successes recorded in the sector and articulated a seasoned policy framework to entrench and sustain viable strategies in the agricultural sector in the country.
2. We would all agree that the effective formulation and implementation of a policy, requires a systematic collaboration among the stakeholders to achieve the set goals. As such, a significant factor of achieving the purpose is to explore the window of national and multilateral collaborations to strengthen the existing structure of advisory, coordinating and regulatory roles in the nation’s development process. This would enable us to actualize enterprise promotion, productive employment, wealth creation and food sufficiency in the country.
3. Over the years, the Agricultural Policy of Nigeria has been focusing on the conventional paradigm of harnessing the sector’s potentials to constitute the major source of employment and foreign exchange earnings, provide sufficient food for an increasing population, supply adequate raw materials to a growing industrial sector, provide a market for agro-industrial products and promote rural socio-economic development in the country.
4. In the 1960s and 1970s, the policy laid emphasis on the production of agricultural commodities to meet domestic demand and explore export opportunities, with less emphasis on value-addition. This situation persisted as the government’s development priority shifted to the industrial sector to utilize the gains of the petroleum oil boom period.
5. To align the sector with the then government’s structural adjustment programme, the first edition of a comprehensiveAgricultural Policy of Nigeria was published in 1988. It steered the strategies of 1980s and 1990s along a private-sector-led and export-oriented initiatives that repositioned the agricultural sector to undertake agro-processing and marketing activities in the country through a community-based, research – driven and enterprise- focused mechanism.
6. As a continuation, the Agricultural Policy Thrust printed in 2001 enriched the previous edition that enabled the 2000 decade policy strategy to adopt modern agricultural techniques, ensure efficient land and water management practices, achieve food security in Nigeria and transform the country into a net–exporter of food. The policy encouraged market-driven agricultural value chain mechanism to promote commercial commodity production and processing in the country.
7. From the 2010 decade, the policy direction is to use technology–driven and industry-focused agribusiness, undertake comparative advantage and competitive edge initiatives in commodity value chains, and encourage strategic partnerships for market-led agribusiness, to effectively diversify the economy, generate employment, create wealth and attain food sufficiency in the country.
8. At present, the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of this Administration has a policy direction with the following components:
- Growth Enhancement Support Scheme to provide private sector managed incentives on agro-inputs, mechanization and processing;
- Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing on Agricultural Lending to guarantee credit facility on agro inputs to farmers;
- Commodity Trade and Market Development Corporation to entrench market access for commodity value chain operators; and
- Staple Crop Processing Zone as dedicated infrastructural facility for adding value to agricultural commodities; and
- National Agricultural Resilience Framework for climate change adaptation.
9. Since its introduction in 2011, the ATA process has impacted on the country’s socio-economic growth by:
- capturing 14.5 million farmers in the National Farmers Data Base to accomplish at least 20 million registered farmers by 2015;
- eliminating rent seeking and ending the monopoly of government by engaging the private sector in the administration of agricultural inputs;
- raising the usage of fertilizer from 13 kg/ha to 80 kg/ha and enabling the growth of seed companies from 11 to 34 between 2011 and 2014;
- creating over 3.5 million jobs and increasing food production by 21 million tonnes of agricultural commodities that overshot the targets of ATA plan by 2015;
- establishing the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme and the “Youth and Women in Agribusiness Investment Programme” to enable the group undertake viable agribusiness;
- leveraging over $8.0 billion of private investment commitments of which over $5.6 billion worth of Letters of Intent was signed with domestic and multinational agribusiness institutions; and
- facilitating a dedicated development finance window via the N200b Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria [FAFIN] to provide credits to agricultural value chain actors.
10. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the review of the national agricultural policy and strategies is meant to put in place, the contemporary measures that would restructure, re-orientate and strengthen the relevant national institutions as well as utilize the opportunities offered by international co-operations to integrate the country’s development goals into the liberalization principle of the world economy. The effort is to incorporate all existing sub-sectoral objectives and strategies in agriculture into a formal policy document to formulate and execute programmes and projects in the sector in line with best practices.
11. In this regard, the Economic Policy Working Group took into cognizance the dynamics of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda and produced a draft Food and Agricultural Policy of Nigeria document. The thrust is to treat agriculture as a business through increased private sector participation, that is cosseted with infrastructural facilities, value chain initiatives, market development, foreign investment and inter sectoral linkages, to attain food and nutrition security in the country. It is to ultimately make the sector more potent, productive and sustainable in increasing commodity output, generating employment, aiding industrialization, creating wealth and making the country a food hub overtime.
12. Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to appreciate the Honourable Minister, members of the Economic Policy Working Group, the Ministry’s Top Management and other Stakeholders for their continuous support to the implementation of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda in this past four years. I therefore, solicit the commitments and cooperation of all stakeholders towards the articulation of an enduring policy for the agriculture sector. Once more, I welcome you to this Validation Workshop on the Draft Food and Agricultural Policy of Nigeria Document and wish you all a successful exercise.
13. Thank you for listening.