Calls for re-introduction of agric marketing boards deepen

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FEMI IBIROGBA, the head of the agro-economic bureau, writes about different perspectives and the determination of the proposed re-introduction of product marketing tips.

Many Nigerians from all walks of life called for the early re-introduction of various agricultural planks for cash crops, such as cocoa, cashew, rice and corn, while several others faced such a move.

Although the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) recently revealed through its executive director, Segun Avolovo, that the government is working on implementing a council for collecting a commodity aggregate under the leadership of the private sector, nothing seems to be done.

Understanding the importance of coordinating the aggregation of agricultural products in the country, the former Minister of Agriculture Akinvumi Adesina proposed the creation of commodity councils, but this could not be well worked through until the end of the administration.

Unused marketing tips were created to overcome agricultural barriers due to poor financing, price fluctuations and inability to access markets.

Marketing tips have been a great help to farmers with relevant information and capacity building to stabilize the production and marketing of agricultural products.

However, corruption, suspicion from the point of view of farmers, fear of external control and inadequate financing / poor governance are strong factors leading to their collapse.

Arguments for and against marketing tips

There are two thoughts on the idea of ​​reintroducing marketing tips in Nigeria, and the arguments became more serious as the country considers agricultural diversification inevitable due to a reduction in revenues from the sale of crude oil.

The school in support argues that the stability of prices for agricultural products, attainable through advice, will serve as a positive strategy for changing investment behavior of farmers, which would trigger a turn of events, but the school, which rejects the idea, argues that the council can take the path of non-existent high levels of corruption, lack of integrity and lack of regulatory framework, among other reasons.

Price stability, the propensity to produce more and food security

Price stability is one of the reasons for the creation of marketing or coordinating councils for various agricultural products by those who belong to the school of thought. This could serve as a stimulant that could attract many new investors in agriculture and could force existing farmers to step up and expand agricultural operations.

Following the stimulus-response theory scheme, advocates for marketing advice argue that confident price stability, which may follow re-introduction, will mean positive reinforcement, and that farmers and investors will respond positively to the resumption of agricultural operations, which Nigeria will help achieve the goal of sustainable development with zero hunger, intensify industrialization through the production of raw materials for agro-industrial processors, create more jobs to increase unemployment and therefore help reduce extreme poverty.

Arguments may impede sales at prices with a sale, as now, the argument continues, as sales at give-and-take prices are counterproductive, which limits subsequent investments in agricultural enterprises.

In a nutshell, price stability will stimulate a positive response to the production of food and industrial crops; food production will lead to reduced food import bills and, if sustainable, will ultimately lead to food security and exports (improved GDP) through a national strategic reserve system.

One of the supporters of this school, President of the National Association of Palm Oil Manufacturers of Nigeria (NPOPAN), Mr. Henry Olatudzhoy, told The Guardian that the association had always expressed support for re-introducing marketing advice, but the constituent councils should be private sector operators, not civil or government employees. However, the government could have representatives on a consultative basis in the councils.

He said that in addition to the advice, agricultural councils should also be established. For example, he said that in the oil palm sector, an agricultural palm oil council, an oil palm marketing council and an oil finger industry association should be formed and should work together for checks and balances.

In this tripartite model, agricultural councils will be responsible for policy frameworks and rules; marketing advice would collect products and reasonable prices, while associations would protect the interests of farmers in major strategic crops.

Camping with oil palm makers is the Association of All Nigerian Farmers (AFAN), saying: “We support marketing advice because there will be organized markets. Once the market is organized, everyone will know the price. And productivity will increase if the price is stable, ”Ibrahim Kabir, who is the president of AFAN, told The Guardian.

Similarly, Mr. Ayodele David, coordinator of the Cassava project for agro-processing (CAMAP) for the African Agricultural Technological Fund (AATF), expressed support for the proposed re-introduction of planks for major crops on the grounds that re-introduction could break the fluctuating prices and provide helping farmers predict farm growth and provide projected funding.

“Producers will be sure that they will produce more at the lowest guaranteed prices, and they will be sure where to sell, and writing a proposal for the objects will become easier. It would also encourage financial institutions to lend to farmers, ”he said.

These councils can help the country to achieve food security through national strategic grain stocks, they say, where processing enterprises (unprocessed rice) and corn, which are the most important national grains, can be stored and sold at the moment.

The recent rental of silos, they say, was the wrong move, because the government could use silos to store rice and corn across the boards. In addition, the council will become the main producer of agricultural products.

Price stability through marketing tips will ensure the safety of rice and corn.

Mr. Akin Olusuyi, Managing Director of Oluji Cocoa Products Ltd, in Ile-Oluji, Ondo, processor of cocoa beans for local industrial use and export, expressed support for marketing advice.

Speaking specifically about the cocoa industry, Olusui said that nothing succeeds if it coordinates this institution.

The problem in Nigeria, he added, and finally the cocoa industry, is the lack of institutions saying: “That's why everything is not working. Cocoa economy does not work because there is no institutional framework. ”

Olusuyi said: “The marketing commission should coordinate the activities of the cocoa industry, starting with farmers and marketers, before exporters and processors. There should be an institution coordinating each interested party. But everyone does what he likes in this sector.

“For example, in the cocoa industry there are so many global events, but they will not come to Nigeria. If investors come to Africa, they will either go to Ghana or to the Cote d'Ivoire. What for? There is no institute for work in Nigeria, ”said Olusuyi.

He added that the country is losing global investments in cocoa, aids, seminars, conferences and technical materials for other countries, since there are no institutions.

“If they go through the government, you and I know what will happen. So this board has been expired. “We've been on it since the administration, led by Goodluck Jonathan,” he complained.

He clarified that he does not call for a council that will control prices, and says: "I say that we should have a council that will regulate the activities of practitioners in this sector."

He criticized the position of the cocoa association against creating a board or regulating prices, saying that the association did not benefit the farmers.

“Everyone wants to defend a position that is beneficial to him or her, but this should not be. They believe that they have an association, but this is all a jamboree. What benefits did they bring to farmers and exporters? In a real sense, who are the exporters? These are foreigners. Olam Group and Almajaro Group are true exporters of Nigerian cocoa. All our people just rent out.

“So, what benefits did the association bring to the farmers? People do not want advice because they do not want to be regulated. The average Nigerian wants things that benefit only him, but some of us have outgrown it, ”he said.

Corruption, reduction and impoverishment of farmers

One of the arguments against re-creating agro-allied marketing councils is the high level of corruption.

Antagonists say that non-existent advice was overshadowed by corruption, and that corrupt practices are even more pronounced now than they were then.

Part of the argument is that the liberalization of the sale of agricultural products gave farmers the opportunity to sell their products at prevailing international prices, and they are better in their current state.

They argue that marketing advice tends to be corrupt, farmers with short changes, buying far less than world prices, and therefore discourage direct investment in the productive agricultural sector.

Theoretically, this is a negative reinforcement that will impede the flow of investment into the sector, they argue.

The regional government that created the marketing councils was initially focused using such boards to generate revenue from the development, they say, referring to the South-West region and Cocoa House, to the construction of the first television station and Ife University, now Obafemi Avolovo University (OAU ), Ile-Ife, as examples of well-used resources coming from such cards, but corruption has crept in and the boards have failed.

The President of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Mr. Sayin Riemann, speaking with The Guardian on behalf of the association, rejected the idea of ​​resale of product marketing tips on the basis of corruption, and because of high earnings liberalization allowed farmers.

“Even if I want to support this idea,” said Riemann, “95 percent of the entire cocoa value chain refused to support the reintroduction of marketing advice. Most cocoa producers own an average of 65 years, and they had first impressions of non-existent marketing advice. ”

He added that “even if the council does not sell cocoa, it will not be able to work until corruption is suppressed in Nigeria. After abandoning the commodity boards, the government did not support the private sector to develop the cocoa sector. ”

Riemann argued that in the entire subregion, Nigerian farmers earn the highest prices for commodities, because speculators sometimes buy cocoa beans outside of international prices.

“Nigerian farmers earn the highest cocoa prices in the subregion. And no one would want to leave such a liberalized economy. However, did the government try any other alternative after trimming the boards? "- he asked.

From the finality of the finals, Riemann said: "We and all the cocoa value chains do not talk about any cocoa marketing board in any form."

Malachi Akoroda, professor of agronomy and former executive director of the Nigeria Cocoa Research Institute (KRIN), recognizes the need for coordination councils, but fears a lack of integrity and a high degree of corruption that could spoil such advice.

“What made the first one unsuccessful? Integrity was not there. Whether you return it or not, could you restore integrity? Value is valued? If you put a board or do not, it is not important. Ghana works on board until tomorrow, and she works for them because of differences in integrity. Many countries do not want to deal with Nigeria. What for? This is a lack of integrity. There is a low level of integrity, a low percentage of integrity and a low degree of integrity, ”said Akoroda.

The need for common soil in the future

Conflicting arguments have sufficient grounds to support the views. In fact, the arguments are convincing. From the arguments of opponents, corruption is a monster that violates the progress of the country. Experience has shown that corrupt elements will always undermine any system in order to enrich themselves and their friends. Integrity is a scarce commodity in Nigeria.

However, the cause of food security and industrial development is too serious to remain without clear political leadership and active coordination.

For example, rice production is too important for the country to remain uncoordinated.

Making a bite-free paddy at relatively decent prices is a deterrent to farmers and a negative behavior modification tool that would prevent farmers from getting serious production.

In order for the country to produce a sufficient amount of local rice, production must be consistent, and new farmers will be involved in growing. Fair price stability across the board will serve as a wand for increased productivity and productivity.

The lack of coordination boards for large national food and industrial crops implies a lack of organization, a carefree attitude towards economic diversification and visionless leadership.

Finding a common basis for resolving conflicting points of view around corruption and farmers' interest becomes imperative, and therefore the inevitability of clear policies and coordination in post-harvest processing and management of agricultural products in Nigeria is a reality if food security is zero tolerance for hunger, job creation and sustainable development through truly diversified economies are national goals.

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