The World Bank Group on Tuesday in Abuja has said there is a need for governments to strengthen laws that govern the agricultural sector in the country.
Mr Farbod Youssefi, the Programme Manager at the World Bank made the appeal at a workshop organised by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), in partnership with the World Bank Group. The workshop was on the Enabling Business of Agriculture (EBA, 2017) report for Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria has weak laws and regulation in areas are that deal with seeds production, marketing and transportation of agricultural products.
“There are other areas such as finance, fertilizer, machinery where the scores in Nigeria are actually higher than in other countries but still there are areas where planning improvement can be made.
“The presentation highlights those opportunities to improve regulation for agribusiness in Nigeria. “The EBA measures and monitors key elements of countries’ regulatory framework that affect agribusiness value chains.
“It identifies and analyzes legal barriers for the business of agriculture and quantifies transaction costs of dealing with government regulations, while at the same time providing indicators that can be used to benchmark the regulatory environment of different economies.
“The globally comparable data it presents can inform policy dialogue and reforms, which promote private sector investments in the agricultural sector,” Youssefi said.
Dr Kehinde Makinde, Country Manager, AGRA, said that business needed an appropriate environment to flourish, adding that this was an opportunity to get feedback from stakeholders in case of lapses from the report.
“So what this report does is to go through different countries to see their business environment in terms of agricultural business value chain and the regular chain framework. “We are talking about sectors like seed, fertilizer, machinery that have been indicated in this report.
“We want to show how each country is performing on the benchmark against other countries.”
Makinde said that there were 62 countries that were covered in the report which showcased how Nigeria was doing in relation to other countries.
“The essence is to provide information that policy actors like the private sector, policy makers and media can be used to be able to see what level Nigeria is and see what needs to be done to improve on these indicators.
“This is a world bank report on enabling business for agriculture for Nigeria. It is clear that to do this, they consulted with many partners.
“The quality of data you get depends on those people that provided the information.”
Makinde said World Bank is a credible institution’ which had been in the business over time.
“People may have one or two reasons to disagree with this report but it doesn’t mean it applies to everywhere in the country.
“They are looking for an average for the nation. In a particular state, they may have a different situation maybe a little higher than average or little below.
“But what is important is to see the general situation of things and look at the general situation that the report talked about.
Makinde maintained that the report spoke about the country and not a particular area, adding, “if there are issues with the report, this is a platform to get feedback from stakeholders.
“We will look through this together then we inform future reports where we see there are errors. But I think in large measure, what we have seen here has been validated by others,” he said.
On his part, Mr Waziri Ahmad, Commissioner for Agriculture, Adamawa, faulted the report on machinery.
Ahmad stated that the report only considered the legal area without looking at the reality on ground.
According to him, the record scored Nigeria high in machinery while the country barely has less than 30,000 functioning tractors for farmers.
“With our population, we should have more tractors in the country. Talking about 300,000 to 400,000 tractors but we have less than 30,000 functioning tractors in the country right now.
“On the other hand, the EBA assessment score is very high but in reality it is not like that. So there is a disconnection in that aspect.
“We find ourselves in a situation where smallholder farmers are over 90 per cent of the farming populace and we will be with that for a long time,” he said.
Ahmad said that officially, the Federal Government and most states had not taken cognizance that there should be two-track approach. “That is mechanisation for large scale farmers and the other is for the smallholder farmers who are the large majority,” he added.
He, however, urged those reviewing the draft before presenting the final report to look at the issue of mechanisation in order to improve productivity in the agricultural sector. The World Bank Group report scored the country’s seed sector 48.85 per cent and markets 49.24 per cent.
Others are transport 46.30 per cent, water 32.03 per cent, ICT 50.00 per cent, fertiliser 57.79 per cent, machinery 63.07 per cent and finance 57.21 per cent.
Youssefi welcomed observations from some stakeholders while and said the report was collated before June 2017.
He assured that the transformations that had taken place in the agricultural sector from June 2017 till date would be captured in the 2018 report.