Five things to impact farmers’ productivity in 2020
Nigeria’s farmers’ productivity in 2020 depends on these five things that have continued to impact farmers’ productivity and the sector’s contribution to the country’s economic growth and development.
As a result, BusinessDay’s agribusiness will be taking a look at these issues.
From the wildfire in Australia to the floods in Dubia airports extreme weather events are putting pressure on the ecosystem that farmers depend.
This impact will be greatly felt in 2020 across countries and continents as the global temperature continues to get warmer.
The Nigerian government has constantly failed to act on climate change as yearly flooding in the south and droughts condition in the north highlights the government monumental failure in taking issues of changing climate.
Nigeria currently lacks the policy to tackle the climate change crisis, either to minimise the scale of climate destruction or to adapt to the new normal.
As a result, extreme weather events have continued to impact negatively on Nigeria’s agricultural activities in recent years and 2020 would not be different.
Experts who spoke with BusinessDay have predicted that climate change will play a key role in farmers’ 2020 productivity.
The experts say that extreme weather conditions are likely to affect not only the outcome of 2020 farming seasons but also the government’s plans to stop food importation which has been valued at over N1 trillion annually or at least reduce it to the barest minimum.
The extreme weather condition does not just only affect crop production, but also livestock and fish production.
“The sign of climate change has become evidence daily in our lives and the impact has been massive in the agricultural sector. The weather conditions will affect the quality of crops and the pricing,” said Desmond Majekodunmi, an environmentalist.
Access to agro-finance
Nigeria’s expectation from its agricultural sector may never crystallise if banks remain unwilling to lend to the sector.
Lack of access to adequate financing by farmers and other actors in the sector has remained a major impediment that prevents investments in basic farm inputs needed to raise productivity and sustain the growth of the non-oil sector.
As a result, yields have failed to increase significantly, leading to pervasive hunger and poverty.
Similarly, agro entrepreneurs seeking to build businesses that could boost food production has continued to remain at a subsistence level in the country.
“Funding is the biggest problem we have in Nigeria’s agriculture,” Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development says at a breakfast meeting with bank CEO’s held in Lagos in 2017.
“We need finance to put all the factors of production together to drive growth in the sector. We know that banks are still finding it difficult to fund agriculture but until we have the money to fund agriculture at the production, processing and marketing level, we would not achieve anything from the sector,” Lokpobiri says.
Nigeria’s agricultural fundamentals are robust and include an estimated 84 million hectares of arable land out of which only 40 percent is cultivated and only 10 percent of the 40 percent is cultivated optimally.
But with adequate financing, the country can put its 84 million hectares of arable land to productive use, experts say.
Prices of key inputs such as seeds, herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers, and agro machinery will be the determinants of food prices in 2020.
Also, access to adequate, secure and timely supply of quality seeds is also a major hurdle on the nation’s quest to return to its heydays with agriculture.
Poor seeds have been identified as the major challenge facing farmers’ cultivation of crops efforts and reducing their yield per hectare.
Despite efforts of successive government to give farmers access to improved seeds, farmers are still unable to get access to good and quality seedlings.
Nigeria’s failure to invest in the seed industry has created a yawning seed gap estimated at N525 billion, leaving farmers’ to low-quality inputs that portend danger to crop production and the country’s food-sufficiency target.
“Most of the seeds in the market today are imported and this is because we do not produce enough seeds. The research institutes that are mandated to produce improved varieties of seeds are not doing anything,” Abiodun Olorundenro, a farmer said.
“There are lots of adulterated seeds in the country today because demand is much higher than supply. The level of investments in the industry is low. To bridge the gap, a lot of merchants are importing these seeds for farmers,” Olorundenro said.
Despite the growth recorded in the numbers of seed companies in Nigeria, investments in the subsector is still low as farmers still find it difficult to easily access improved seeds and seedlings to cultivate.
The total national seed requirements for eight major crops, including maize and rice, in Africa’s most populous country, stood at 388,690.64 metric tons (MT) in 2015, while the quantity available was 126,173 MT, leaving a yawning gap of 262,518 MT.
Experts in the agricultural sector say that the government needs to prevent the supply-availability gap from widening further to prevent creating a fertile ground for the proliferation of unregistered and incompetent operators who flood the market with fake or poor quality seeds.
They explained that legal backing from the National Assembly would empower the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) to carry out its statutory mandate of regulation and supervision of seeds more effectively and seamlessly.
To bridge the gaps, experts have called for collaborations between the government and the private sector to drive investments in seed production in the country.
The experts also urged the government to create an enabling environment that will spur investments in seed production while enforcing stronger regulations to protect local investments.
Framers seek hybrid seeds owing to their productivity advantage, but most of them are imported, leading to the high cost of production of farm produce and high prices of food items in the country.
Indubitably, some of the greatest problems confronting rural farmers and communities in Nigeria are the absence of critical infrastructure such as motorable roads, storage facilities, and irrigation facilities amongst others.
Farmers continue to suffer low levels of agricultural productivity due to infrastructural deficit across the country, which reduces their profit and impact on their capacity to increase productivity.
The provision of critical infrastructure is a pre-requisite for enabling Nigeria to stimulate economic growth and to reach the targets for economic diversification and food security.
Madu Obiora, CEO, Multimix Academy said that Nigeria does not have an effective agricultural infrastructure, stating that the country’s export drive can only be successful with adequate infrastructural facilities such as storage, good road networks amongst others, stressing that the lack of it has made cost of food production higher.
“The costs of logistics are also very high. It is cheaper to transport a commodity to Europe than to transport the same commodity within the country,” Madu said.
After a few days of heavy rainfalls, most farming areas and markets become totally impassable and this has continued to impact negatively on the prices of food items across the country.
Despite Nigeria ranks top in the production of some crops, the infrastructures needed to store the excesses are lacking.
“Post-harvest losses in Nigeria are huge due to inadequate storage facilities in the country, stating that the country’s post-harvest losses are enough to feed the West Africa region,” said Mawuli Coffie, team leader, West Africa Food Markets Programme.
According to Abiodun Olorundenro, manager, AquaShoots, the problem with Nigeria agriculture is infrastructure, stating that the country is growing enough to feed its people but most of what is grown often rot in the field because it is difficult to move them easily from the farms and the facilities to store them are lacking.
“We can only feed ourselves when the infrastructures needed to boost productivity across the value chain are there. We can even move our foods from the farm to the market easily,” Olorundenro said.
He stated that developing agriculture is very critical in the country’s efforts to diversify, which he said can only be achieved when heavy investments are made in infrastructures.
Investments in the country’s primary agricultural infrastructures will help integrate poorer sections of the population into a sustainable process of economic growth and development, experts say.
In turn, this will reduce poverty by providing jobs, directly and indirectly, that will serve as a stimulus to the economy and the agricultural sector.
Apart from the impact of Boko Haram in the North-East, which has displaced thousands of agrarian communities, farming activities have also come under threat in the middle belt region and other regions in Nigeria due to conflicts between farmers and herdsmen.
The 2018 attacks by herdsmen in Benue, Enugu, Bayelsa, Ekiti and Adamawa among others have impeded agric output in the affected states and market development.
“The crisis has implications for the agricultural sector and employment generation. It is a major risk to the growth of the sector,” said Muda Yusuf, director-general, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“This is also a threat to raw materials for industries. The agric sector provides the raw materials that feed on industries especially the food and beverage industries. This conflict is happening in a period of FX shortage,” said Yusuf.