Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), has advocated that Nigeria as a country should create a business in agriculture, and that any policy that does not agree with this is only going to be an effort in futility.
Manzo Maigari, Director General, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), stated this in a webinar session on ‘What can Nigeria do to limit Post COVID-19 impact on Agriculture; the Imperative for Strategic Policy Direction’ organised by the Guild of Nigerian Agriculture Journalists (GNAJ).
He said that the simple reason why nobody takes farming serious in Nigeria is because it remains’a black hole’; no standards, no regulation and that no serious businessperson would put their funds in an uncertain venture.
“We have advocated the issue of clusterisation that is based on the understanding that over 70 percent of the agricultural landscape is dominated by smallholder farmers who on their own cannot do anything, and not even viable. Therefore, if a farmer has been clustered with an off-taker it becomes easy to direct funds and channel them into productive ventures for them”.
According to him, while there have been developments such as the Anchor Borrowers programme and NIRSAL Agro geo cooperatives, there should be a deliberate policy to back this and in crafting a policy like that, we expect the government takes a critical look at the status of agriculture as being in the concurrent list of the constitution.
“What that simply means is that local governments, state governments and the Federal Government can each pursue their own agricultural agenda independently. The current approach has so far proven counterproductive.
“If we find it inconvenient to drop agriculture from the concurrent list, then we should make it in such a manner that efforts are concerted. If for instance, a region has soil and climatic conditions that are best for a kind of crop, the Federal Government should take the States along and take the local governments along so that they work together, pull resources together to achieve that.
“There is also the need for a National Agricultural Development Corporation to akin to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) because agriculture is even bigger than the oil economy. We must approach agriculture from that perspective in a manner that we have a national development company, to which states can zone certain percentages of their land mass and we give them seed money to clear these lands, develop these lands and then go into joint ventures.
“JVs with multinationals, JVs with Sovereigns because we are aware that there are a lot of countries that are looking for land to produce food and we can develop this with an integrated approach with percentage derivation paid back to host communities. With this, Nigeria will see agriculture developing in no time to drive the economy of this country,” he added.