The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), has said that over $50 billion would be saved annually if local production was protected, the development of a deliberate policy restricting importation of agricultural products that could be produced locally.
NACCIMA, in a communiqué issued during its 55th Annual General Meeting tagged: “Policy Consistency in Agricultural Value Chain: A Key to Socio Economic Development,” explained that there is a need for the federal government to provide incentives for large scale mechanised farming to create employment, achieve increased productivity and self-sufficiency in food production for local consumption and export.
According to the association, this will save the scarce foreign exchange expended on importation of food, estimated at over USD50 billion annually. There should also be a deliberate policy for the protection of local investors against dumping.
Agriculture has been identified as an important sector of the Nigerian economy employing over 60 per cent of Nigerians including many rural women, and contributing 35 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However NACCIMA, stressed that despite the involvement of over 60 per cent, agriculture in Nigeria is largely focused on food crops for the domestic market.
“Nigeria however, remains a net importer of food largely because of the small scale nature of agricultural operations, with limited innovation regarding inputs, harvesting, processing, distribution and access to markets, “he said.
According to NACCIMA, Nigeria’s over dependence on petroleum is a major hindrance to agriculture and agribusiness development, stating that 95 per cent of the country’s exports are dominated by petroleum and related products thereby shifting focus from agriculture and resulting in severe underinvestment in the sector.
”Recognised that the country has a substantial base to build upon which includes its natural assets including land (39.6m hectares of arable land, of which 60 per cent is under cultivation), climate and rainfall, its coastal areas, and its history as an agrarian economy,” NACCIMA said.
The communique added that government should take agriculture as a key business sector, stating that – like other sectors, agriculture requires the engagement of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) across critical value chains by way of provision of easy and cheap financing and support systems, including equipment, processing, transportation, distribution and marketing support.
With adequate support and incentives, the move will result in the emergence of small and medium size enterprises, which can create value and jobs across critical value chains.
Outlining the need for effective collaboration between the private and public sectors by way of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in agricultural development, the Association stressed that all stakeholders, the OPS, which includes members of NACCIMA, Development partners, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and National governments should take advantage of the PPP strategy in transforming Nigeria’s agricultural and agribusiness landscape where the country’s growth and development is anchored.
The operating environment as mentioned in the communiqué, is the major constraint inhibiting agricultural development, urging government to take deliberate steps to drive improvement in the operating environment in terms of provision and/or facilitation of access to security, power, finance, processing, storage and marketing facilities.
Recommendations made include the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to policy formulation with government investing more in policy formulation and secure the active involvement of the private sector in policy formulation and implementation to ensure continuity of agricultural programmes beyond the tenure of the government that initiated the policies/programmes.
Also the need for the government to encourage complimentary investments in the various aspects of the agricultural value-chain, such as land clearing, seed production, fertilizer distribution, storage, processing and marketing, saying that this way, there will be economies of scale, increase in production capacity and low cost of production.
”Government should facilitate access to affordable financing and develop/or facilitate the development of infrastructure that support and enhance agricultural production and profitability. These include construction and/or maintenance of rural or feeder roads, facilitation of transportation services, and ensuring that funding gets to the right farmers/quarters,” NACCIMA added
It pointed out that government must develop a national policy on grazing and re-create designated grazing fields across the country, to forestall regular clashes between cattle rearers and farmers.
“A situation where cattle rearers graze their animals through cultivated farms unchallenged will continue to dissuade investment in farming. Grazing fields should be delineated by government and animals rearing restricted to such fields to prevent clashes, conflicts and deaths,” NACCIMA added.
“Government should intensify efforts towards developing one local government one product policy to encourage even development of all states and ensure even development of the agricultural sector,” NACCIMA said.
Furthermore, NACCIMA added that the agricultural transformation will require the involvement of all relevant stakeholders as well as enhancement of investments and actions in enhancing science research, innovation and technology, particularly technology that improve productivity of the smallholder women farmers and youths and reduce cost of production.
“There is an urgent need for improvements in productivity through access to improved seeds, fertilizers, water management techniques, equipment, financing, storage facilities and markets. Use of rudimentary technology for cultivation, harvesting and processing increase overall production costs,” NACCIMA said.