New agric pol­icy to tackle food im­port bill, others Needs 20% bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion to work –AFAN

Daily Trust - - CITY NEWS -

Nige­ria still im­ports about $3 to $5 bil­lion worth of food an­nu­ally and earns a pal­try for­eign ex­change from agriculture, which used to be the main­stay of the na­tion’s econ­omy.

A new agriculture pol­icy launched re­cently by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment seeks to ad­dress th­ese vex­ing is­sues, among others.

Ac­cord­ing to the Agriculture min­is­ter, Chief Audu Og­beh, due to the un­ac­cept­able sit­u­a­tion that has per­sisted over the years, “It be­came paramount to ‘re­fresh our strat­egy’ to tackle th­ese two is­sues head on. Agriculture Promotion Pol­icy (APP) is that re­freshed strat­egy.

“In 2016 to 2020, Nige­ria’s pol­icy now needs to be read­justed to solve the afore­men­tioned challenges.

“The go for­ward fed­eral pri­or­i­ties (in part­ner­ship with state gov­ern­ments) will be the fol­low­ing four: food se­cu­rity; im­port sub­sti­tu­tion; job cre­ation; and eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion,” the pol­icy doc­u­ment ob­tained by Daily Trust read in part.

The min­is­ter pointed out that the pur­pose of the new pol­icy was to pro­vide a dis­ci­plined ap­proach to build­ing an agribusi­ness ecosys­tem that will ad­dress the two se­ri­ous challenges.

“The pri­vate sec­tor will re­main in the lead while gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­tates, as well as pro­vides sup­port­ing in­fras­truc­ture, sys­tems, con­trol pro­cesses and over­sight,” Chief Og­beh stated.

The new pol­icy, which will build on the suc­cesses and lessons learnt from the Agri­cul­tural Trans­for­ma­tion Agenda (ATA) of the im­me­di­ate past ad­min­is­tra­tion and close key gaps, is an­chored on three main pil­lars: promotion of agri­cul­tural in­vest­ment; fi­nanc­ing agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes; and re­search for agri­cul­tural in­no­va­tion and pro­duc­tiv­ity.

The spe­cific ob­jec­tives of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s ad­min­is­tra­tion for agriculture as stated in the 2016 – 2020 pol­icy doc­u­ment are to achieve: agriculture sec­tor GDP growth of 6% - 12%, al­low­ing agri­cul­tural house­hold in­come to dou­ble in 6 – 12 years, hold­ing all else equal; 75% agriculture’s share of non-oil ex­ports earn­ings; and 2% agriculture’s share of fed­eral bud­get.

An­other spe­cific ob­jec­tive is to pro­mote the re­spon­si­ble use of land, wa­ter and other nat­u­ral re­sources to cre­ate a vi­brant agri­cul­tural sec­tor of­fer­ing em­ploy­ment and liveli­hood for a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Also among the ob­jec­tives is to cre­ate a mech­a­nism for im­proved gover­nance of agriculture by the su­per­vis­ing in­sti­tu­tions, and im­prov­ing qual­ity of en­gage­ment be­tween the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments.

Three the­matic in­ter­ven­tions aimed at unlocking the full po­ten­tial un­der the new APP as listed in the doc­u­ment in­clude: pro­duc­tiv­ity en­hance­ments; crowd­ing in pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment; and Fed­eral Min­istry of Agriculture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment’s in­sti­tu­tional re­align­ment.

Re­act­ing to the pol­icy, the Pres­i­dent of All Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (AFAN), Ar­chi­tect Kabir Ibrahim, said it would not work if the gov­ern­ment failed to ded­i­cate at least 10% of an­nual na­tional bud­get to agriculture within the stated pe­riod as stated in the Maputo dec­la­ra­tion.

“This year is out of it as ad­e­quate al­lo­ca­tion was not given to agriculture. From 2017 on­wards, up to 20% should be al­lo­cated to the sec­tor to make the pol­icy work. That’s the opin­ion of the farm­ers,” he pointed out.

The AFAN pres­i­dent de­scribed build­ing on the suc­cesses and lessons of the ATA of the past ad­min­is­tra­tion by the new gov­ern­ment in the new pol­icy as a good ini­tia­tive which will en­sure con­ti­nu­ity.

He said the new pol­icy was in­clu­sive as AFAN was in­volved in the de­lib­er­a­tions that led to its emer­gence at var­i­ous fora.

Com­ment­ing on the new pol­icy, Mr. Aji­jelek Paul Akusuk, a fruit and veg­eta­bles farmer in Plateau State, de­scribed it as a good de­vel­op­ment, say­ing, “The Green Ini­tia­tive is a de­lib­er­ate ef­fort by the gov­ern­ment to change Nige­ria from a consumer econ­omy to a pro­ducer econ­omy, which will im­prove the GDP of the coun­try and ease the eco­nomic ten­sion in the na­tion.”

He urged the gov­ern­ment to demon­strate strong po­lit­i­cal will to­wards its ur­gent and proper im­ple­men­ta­tion.

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