It cannot be contested that there is a strong correlation between a well developed agricultural sector and well being in any society
Nigeria’s agricultural sector employs the highest number of people (about 60 percent of the country’s workforce) and still caters to the needs of greater number of the Nigerian people. It is said to be contributing about 40 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
Over the years, agriculture had been practised in subsistence form in many parts of the country, thereby limiting its contribution to the overall development of Nigeria. Although agriculture in the last three years can be said to have experienced tremendous transformation, there’s still more to be done.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Adesina Akinwumi, echoed optimism over the ongoing agric reform in Lagos last week when he said that the transformation agenda of the current administration on agriculture was up and running, and geared towards changing the face of agriculture and its perception.
He observed that Nigeria, nay, Africa had no business being poor. Adesina further remarked that “Africa is a continent endowed with enormous potential for agric, yet it is the place you see the worst form of poverty and deprivation. That is a serious challenge we must tackle. It is unfortunate that nowadays, agriculture which used to be the main source of our income has been neglected. …Africa holds the key to move agriculture forward. We are blessed with favourable weather, arable land, and sufficient water to sustain agriculture. We hold the key to feeding the world.”
We observe that the challenges the current reform seeks to overcome are the bottlenecks that had excluded the poor from benefitting from government interventions in the sector. With the reform, the system whereby middle-men and pseudo-farmers hijacked incentives meant for agricultural growth, while real farmers were sidelined to wallow in poverty, is being jettisoned.
While we commend the ongoing reforms in Nigeria’s agric sector especially as real farmers are being incentivized to practice farming as a business, we still believe that government needs to intensify its efforts in the area of creating a conducive environment for manufacturing growth in the belief that a vibrant manufacturing economy along with agriculture will absorb a lot of manpower thus reducing unemployment and poverty drastically.
We hope that the positive changes in the agric sector would be sustained and not reversed by obstructive policy somersaults that may come along with change in public officials. A consistent pursuit of agricultural growth and improved agricultural practices with appropriate incentives will make Nigeria in the near future self-sufficient in food production, in addition to being a leading producer of processed agricultural produce for industry.