• Thursday, June 20, 2024
businessday logo


Experts call for private sector-led commodity board as FG seeks reintroduction

Experts call for private sector-led commodity board as FG seeks reintroduction

As the Tinubu-led government plans to reintroduce commodity boards, experts in the agricultural sector are calling for a private sector-led commodity board initiative.

The experts say the private–led commodity boards will ensure that the counts of corruption, personal enrichment and duplicity of functions that led to the abolition of government-owned commodity boards do not reoccur.

“While government platforms have goals centred around policy and government-led agriculture industrialisation, private exchanges optimise for increased returns across the value chain,” said Obianuju Okafor, AFEX communication manager

“Private exchanges prioritise market efficiency, price transparency, improved market access, as well as leveraging technology innovation to improve products and processes,” Okafor added.

President Tinubu had stated in his ‘renewed hope’ manifesto, that his administration will reintroduce commodity boards to establish minimum prices for farmers of some strategic crops.

According to the document, it will improve certainty and increase farmers’ capacity to produce more food staples needed to sustain the country’s growing population.

Ibrahim Kabiru, national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, said the previous boards were abrogated because there was too much control and some corruption in implementation.

Read also: World Bank, FG rate Lagos high on agro-processing project implementation

However, he said, “with transparency and private sector investments, the commodity boards operating as veritable commodity exchanges will now serve the farmers better, thereby incentivising productivity which could lead to sufficiency.”

Kabiru also advocated that commodity boards, when reintroduced, should operate under close monitoring so that the teething problems of yesteryears will not resurface.

According to experts, a private-sector-driven commodity exchange system will eliminate several problems in the agricultural sector, where post-harvest losses are as high as 40 percent for some commodities.

And though commodity boards are not a new concept in Nigeria’s agriculture, stakeholders within the value chains of agricultural commodities are clamouring for the return of the commodity marketing boards, but championed by the private sector.

Today, the country’s agriculture is plagued with problems such as inadequate financing, poor storage facilities and low technology use limiting output maximization.

Nigeria currently has a missing link in terms of quality control and standardisation between agricultural producers and buyers of Nigerian produce at international markets. Over 70 percent of food exports from Nigeria are rejected abroad, with exporters and the country bearing huge financial losses.

Banned pesticides around the world are still being used in Nigeria to date. According to a recent European report, 65 percent of pesticides used by Nigerian farmers on their farmlands are hazardous.

With commodity boards, several issues in the sector will be addressed and farmers will be hedged again price volatility, according to experts.

Victor Olowe, a professor and agronomist at the Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research, is of the opinion that commodity-based associations are pulling their weights, coordinating the activities of farmers and that the government should rather empower those associations.

“I don’t see the commodity boards doing more than what those associations are doing, actually,” Olowe said.