B’haram, herds­men un­der­min­ing agric sec­tor, says W’bank

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Ihuoma Chiedozie, Abuja

The Boko haram in­sur­gency and herds­men at­tacks in parts of the coun­try un­der­mined the growth of Nige­ria’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to a report re­leased by the World Bank.

The Fed­eral Govern­ment’s eco­nomic Re­cov­ery and Growth Plan tar­gets agri­cul­ture as a key sec­tor to sup­port eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and pro­mote im­port sub­sti­tu­tion.

The strat­egy aims to achieve pro­duc­tion self-suf­fi­ciency in cer­tain partly im­ported com­modi­ties, in­clud­ing rice, wheat, sugar, and palm oil.

In re­cent years, the Cen­tral Bank of Nige­ria had sup­ported agri­cul­ture through con­ces­sion­ary fi­nanc­ing and risk-shar­ing pro­grammes such as the Com­mer­cial Agri­cul­tural Credit Scheme, the Nige­rian In­cen­tive-based Risk Shar­ing in Agri­cul­tural Lend­ing pro­gramme, and the An­chor Bor­row­ers

Pro­gramme.

Also, since 2015, im­porters had not been el­i­gi­ble to source for­eign ex­change from Nige­rian forex win­dows for agri­cul­tural com­modi­ties such as rice, veg­eta­bles, poul­try, meat, and toma­toes.

how­ever, in its lat­est Nige­ria eco­nomic Up­date, the World Bank re­ported that, de­spite gains recorded in re­cent times, Boko haram in­sur­gency and herds­men at­tacks had in­hib­ited the growth of the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

Agri­cul­ture grew by 2.5 per cent in the first half of 2019, marginally up from 2.1 per cent in the first half of 2018.

The report said, “Agri­cul­ture, which con­sti­tutes a quar­ter of the coun­try’s Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct and em­ploys about half of the labour force, picked up slightly, but re­mains be­low its po­ten­tial.

“In the first half of 2019, crop pro­duc­tion, which is re­spon­si­ble for 90 per cent of agri­cul­tural out­put, was af­fected by the on­go­ing in­sur­gency in the North-east re­gion and by farmer­herder con­flicts in the North-cen­tral re­gion.

“To­gether, those re­gions pro­duce a sig­nif­i­cant share of the coun­try’s main crops, par­tic­u­larly grains (sorghum, mil­let, maize, and rice), beans, yams, cas­sava, pota­toes, ground­nuts, sesame, and soy­beans.”

De­spite the large size of Nige­ria’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor, its out­put is low, the World Bank fur­ther ob­served.

It said, “Agri­cul­ture is Nige­ria’s largest em­ployer, ac­count­ing for 40 per cent of its work­ers, but con­trib­utes just 25 per cent to GDP.

“Nige­ria’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor is vast, but pro­duc­tiv­ity is low.

“Nige­ria’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor is un­usu­ally large by sub-sa­ha­ran Africa stan­dards, but the pro­duc­tiv­ity of its labour is be­low the av­er­age for peer coun­tries.”

Coun­tries re­garded as Nige­ria’s peers in­clude South-africa, In­dia, Brazil and In­done­sia.

Paint­ing a dreary pic­ture of the Nige­rian agri­cul­tural sec­tor, the World Bank said, “For the past 20 years, agri­cul­tural value-added per capita has risen by less than one per cent a year, and mar­ginal yield is far be­low its po­ten­tial.

“Most Nige­rian farms are small, rain­fed rather than ir­ri­gated, with min­i­mal phys­i­cal cap­i­tal.

“Agri­cul­tural value chains are un­derde­vel­oped due to poor in­fra­struc­ture, in­ef­fi­cient land mar­kets, limited ac­cess to fi­nance, un­re­li­able pol­icy, and in­ad­e­quate mar­ket in­for­ma­tion.

“These con­di­tions dis­cour­age in­vest­ment and in­hibit the up­take of new tech­nolo­gies, slow­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity growth.”

The Nige­ria eco­nomic Up­date fur­ther re­ported that in­se­cu­rity in the north­ern part of the coun­try, ow­ing largely to the Boko haram in­sur­gency and herds­men at­tacks, had in­creased poverty in the re­gion.

It noted that in 2018, about half of all Nige­ri­ans were es­ti­mated to be liv­ing in ex­treme poverty.

The bank said, “The vul­ner­a­bil­ity of those liv­ing be­low the poverty line is wors­ened by the ad­verse se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the North, which has dis­placed a large pop­u­la­tion that has am­pli­fied the high in­ci­dence of poverty in the North-east.

“Nine mil­lion Nige­rian chil­dren are out of school, es­pe­cially in the North­east where fam­i­lies were dis­placed by the Boko haram in­sur­gency.”

The report noted that be­tween 2010 and 2017, 49 per cent of house­holds in the North-east were af­fected by con­flicts, more than 66 per cent of which were re­port­edly caused by Boko haram.

Within the same pe­riod, 25 per cent of house­holds in the North-cen­tral re­gion also fell vic­tim to con­flict aris­ing from the ac­tiv­i­ties of no­mads, pas­toral­ists and in­sur­gents.

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