Nigeria’s agricultural performance in 2024 depends on the federal government’s commitment to addressing fundamental issues that have continued to impact farmers’ productivity and the sector’s contribution to economic growth.
As a result, BusinessDay spoke with experts who shed light on focal points that the government can leverage to cultivate a thriving agricultural environment.
According to these experts, Nigeria’s agriculture will grow if a concerted effort is made to stem insecurity, encourage year-round production, spur private sector leadership and involvement, and provide subsidies on all inputs among others.
Address worsening insecurity
“Government needs to tackle headlong the insecurity issues in all agrarian communities,” said Abiodun Olorundero, managing partner at Prasino Farms.
The country’s insecurity intensified in 2023, forcing many farmers to abandon their farmlands.
According to the European Journal of Social Sciences Studies, the farmers-herdsmen conflict remains the major issue in Nigeria, assuming dangerous dimensions with unimaginable consequences for food security.
With an outlook that already predicts a ‘considerable decline’ in the production of grains in Nigeria in 2024, the “West Africa Regional Supply and Market Outlook” also projects that in the event of worsening conflict and insecurity in the year, further limits in terms of market functioning and access, and disruptions into other supply corridors is expected.
“In Nigeria, sluggish economic conditions and anticipated production decreases will keep prices above average in 2024,” the report said.
Encourage all year production
Analysts have said that irrigation facilities are about all that is needed for all-year-round farming in the country.
The country has seen its food production decline yearly, causing shortages and price surges that have further strained finances.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) forecasts that by the year 2050, global water requirements for agriculture will increase by 50 percent.
To be able to feed Nigeria’s ever-growing population and improve its foreign earnings in agriculture, the government needs to both encourage and provide the enabling environment for its farmers to adopt irrigation systems as a leeway to boost resilience and sustainable crop production.
“To restore Nigeria’s glory and dignity, we need to roll up our sleeves and embark on sustainable innovation and serious knowledge-driven agricultural production,” Ibrahim Kabir, national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, said.
Promote private sector-led agriculture
According to the FAO, Africa’s food market is estimated to grow to $1 trillion by 2030 and it needs the catalytic intervention of the private sector to bring it to fruition.
To achieve and surpass this growth, the international agency says all actors in the agribusiness space must play their part, with the private sector being an indispensable actor.
“The government should encourage the private sector to drive Nigeria’s agriculture by strictly providing the enabling environment for sustainable agribusiness,” Kabir said.
Subsidies inputs for farmers
The Association’s president has said that Nigeria’s agriculture will grow if the government can work around providing subsidies on all inputs, especially fertilisers, in the short term.
Kabir projects that full mechanisation of agric processes, deployment of STI (science, technology, and innovation), knowledge-based agricultural production, as well as fully embracing agribusiness and agricultural biotechnology will help to scale productivity in the medium and long term.
“If we deepen knowledge-based agribusiness, 2024 may well be Nigeria’s year of agricultural prosperity, sustainable food security, and relative peace.”
Nigeria enjoyed relative prosperity upon the discovery of oil but the country squandered proceeds from it “by embarking on poorly thought-out grandiose projects, grand scale corruption, and inefficient management,” AFAN president said.
“The incidence of gradual descent into fragility in any nation results from inefficiencies in the entire food system and institutional malfunctions.
So, “to start with we should aim at adequately feeding our huge population of over 200,000,000 and still counting, as a short-term milestone.
“This is not very easy for several reasons, though, but definitely doable with focus and determination.”