Pri­vate-sec­tor led agric pro­duc­tion may weather elec­tion­eer­ing im­pact – an­a­lysts

Business Day (Nigeria) - - NEWS - TEMI­TAYO AYETOTO

Amid the un­cer­tain­ties gath­er­ing along­side elec­tion­eer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the coun­try, an­a­lysts ap­pear con­fi­dent that agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion driven by pri­vate­sec­tor sup­port will not be ad­versely af­fected.

For crop such as co­coa, there are strong prospects that out­put for 2018/19 sea­son will ex­pe­ri­ence rea­son­able growth of about 15 per­cent if farm­ers in pro­duc­ing re­gions are able to scale through poor weather con­di­tions.

Prices may also marginally in­crease dur­ing the first quar­ter, al­though a dip is pro­jected to oc­cur to­wards Oc­to­ber, which marks the be­gin­ning of 2019/2020 farm­ing sea­son. These fore­casts are pred­i­cated on a trend of growth in pro­duc­tion, which usu­ally fol­lows sea­sons of low har­vest.

Agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties last year were largely dis­tressed by flood­ing which rav­aged 80 per­cent of the coun­try, in­clud­ing sev­eral farm­lands across Abia, Ji­gawa, CrossRiver and Kebbi states, among oth­ers.

The dis­as­ter cou­pled with clashes be­tween farm­ers and herders in the north­east af­fected the vol­ume and qual­ity of food pro­duc­tion in 2018, caus­ing the sec­tor to de­cline to 1.19 per­cent in the sec­ond quar­ter and 1.91 per­cent in the third quar­ter, de­spite be­gin­ning the year with 3 per­cent growth in the first quar­ter.

In spite of an­a­lysts’ op­ti­mism, there are gen­eral con­cerns that elec­tion­eer­ing will not al­low much of pol­icy fo­cus on agri­cul­ture be­fore and af­ter the polls, thereby weak­en­ing growth po­ten­tial fur­ther. The im­pli­ca­tion is that im­ple­men­ta­tion of bud­get- ary al­lo­ca­tions to the var­i­ous crops will suf­fer de­cline into the first half of the year and may per­haps pick up slowly mid­way into the sec­ond half if the ruling party re­turns to power. Should it be vicev­ersa, con­ti­nu­ity in cur­rent schemes to boost agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion, such as the An­chor Bor­row­ers Pro­gramme (ABP) or the Pres­i­den­tial Fer­tiliser Ini­tia­tive (PFI), may be dis­con­tin­ued for fresh pro­grammes, which might also de­lay in tak­ing shape.

“There might be tec­tonic shift in the pol­icy di­rec­tion in a case where the same party gets back into power be­cause over the pe­riod of this past, agri­cul­ture has been driven es­sen­tially by the Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria,” said an of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

“Whether or not the same party in power comes back, agri­cul­tural in­ter­ven­tion will not start im­me­di­ately. So, the whole of the first half of the year will be gone. Even be­fore ap­pro­pri­a­tion comes into ef­fect, and be­fore fund re­lease, we are al­ready fall­ing into the sec­ond half of the year, in which case the bulk of the south­ern part of the coun­try would have been fully into pro­duc­tion on their cost,” said the of­fi­cial.

Em­manuel Iji­were, vi­cepres­i­dent, Nige­ria Agribusi­ness Group, shares the same sen­ti­ment and be­lieves the lack of fo­cus or a likely change of govern­ment will af­fect the sec­tor’s per­for­mance, ex­cept con­ti­nu­ity is en­sured in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of poli­cies like the low-in­ter­est rate win­dow pro­vided to farm­ers last year.

The CBN, in the bid to boost the pro­duc­tive sec­tor of the econ­omy, al­lowed agri­cul­tural and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors to ob­tain loans from com­mer­cial banks at a fixed in­ter­est rate of 9 per­cent last Au­gust but the im­pact has yet to trickle down to farm­ers into pro­duc­tion.

L-R: Uzor Sun­day Okolie, busi­ness devel­op­ment di­vi­sion, Sigma Pen­sions: Ak­in­bode Ade­dayo, so­cial worker, Hikanos Or­phan­age: Adaora Ude, head, Strat­egy, Sigma Pen­sions: Afo­labi Oloyede, man­ager, Hikanos Or­phan­age, and Ke­hinde Aiye­ola, busi­ness devel­op­ment depart­ment, Sigma Pen­sions, dur­ing the visit and do­na­tion of goods to Hikanos Or­phan­age for the ‘Dear­sig­mas­anta’ CSR ini­taive in La­gos, yes­ter­day. Pic by David Apara

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