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Buhari’s Government Scores Very Low On Agricultural Sector

 

Audu-Ogbe

By Steve Agbota

AT independence in 1960, agriculture was the largest contributor to the Nige­rian economy, accounting for about 63 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domes­tic Product (GDP), which is typical for developing agrarian nations.

As at that time incomes were derived from the ex­port of major cash crops like rubber, cocoa, palm oil, cashew nuts, ground­nut and cotton, cassava among others and provid­ed about 70 per cent of ac­tive labour for Nigerians. But from the 2013 rebased figures the agricultural sector contributed 21.97 percent or N17.625 trillion ($112.26 billion) of the to­tal N80.22 trillion ($510 billion). This compares with N14.71 trillion ($93.7 billion) in the old non-re­based estimates for 2013.

With the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari administration on May 29, 2015, farmers were optimistic that the agricultural sector would experience the much awaited change, expected to transform the sector.

Though, President Mu­hammadu Buhari, has con­tinued assuring the nation that developing the sector and ensuring food security in the country remained a priority to his administra­tion. One year under the President’s watch, agri­culture has experienced tremendous set back as the prices of farm produce have gradually become out of reach for consumers of fresh tomato, rice and gar­ri among others.

The prices of some ag­ricultural items have sky­rocketed across the major markets in the country.

For instance between 2014 and April 2015, the price of rice was stable in the market even dur­ing the Christmas period, when it sold for N9,000. Today however, a bag of rice is being sold for about N17,000 while one bas­ket of tomato that used to sell for about N4000, to N6000 before is now be­ing sold for N12,000 and a custard plastic of garri that sold for N250, now sells for N750 over night.

However, some stake­holders and farmers who spoke to Daily Sun scored Buhari’s administration a lean 5 per cent in agricul­ture sector, just because of his appointment of Chief Audu Ogbeh as the Minis­ter of Agriculture and Ru­ral Development.

Yet other stakeholders in support of President Muhammadu Buhari in­sist that one year in office was not enough to judge one’s performance. They said the budget has just been approved and that with time Buhari will turn the sector around.

Managing Director of Universal Quest Limited/National Publicity Sec­retary, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Sotonye Anga, said that one thing Buhari administration has done is appointing Chief Audu Ogbeh as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural De­velopment because he un­derstands agriculture.

However, he said the Ministry of Agriculture has not been funded in the last one year, saying the Ministry has not been able to fund any activities or projects because they have not been with money as the budget was not ap­proved on time.

He added: “If you look at it critically, nothing has been achieved in terms of agricultural productivity rather than the Minister putting together the road­map implementation for agriculture and he has been talking to stakehold­er and everybody prefer to work with him to drive growth in the sector. But you cannot drive growth without money. Funding has hampered productiv­ity. In the last one year, food prices have gone high on almost every products.”

Now that the budget has been approved, he stated that agric sector would see a level of improvement, since this is a critical planting season and farm­ers cannot plant without being funded.

He explained that farm­ers have almost lost whole planting season 2016 be­cause of lack of fund but by 2017 there be accelerat­ed and dynamic improve­ment across the agricul­tural value chain.

The Director of Man­field Farms Venture, Mr. Femi Omoboriowo, said that government has not really done much to un­lock the potential in agric sector.

He said however, the proposed 2016 agricul­ture budget at 1.6 per cent shows that the Nigerian government’s budgetary allocations to the sector is yet to met 10 per cent 2003 Maputo Declaration.

According to him, one thing the past administra­tions failed to do was to implement the Maputo Declaration on Agricul­ture and Food Security and the 10 percent na­tional budget allocation to agriculture development.

He explained: “At the Second Ordinary Assem­bly of the African Union in July 2003 in Maputo, African Heads of State and Government endorsed the “Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Se­curity in Africa.

The commitment was to persuade governments to increase spending in the sector to stimulate agricul­tural growth, reduce pov­erty, and build food and nutrition security.

“After the meeting in 2003, a total of 13 coun­tries have met or surpassed the 10 per cent target in one or more years since then and they include Bu­rundi, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Ma­lawi, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Zambia, and Zimbabwe but Nigeria is yet to join the league.”

He said one of the Bu­hari’s 5-point agenda was to make Nigeria where entrepreneurship thrives, enterprise flourishes and the government gets out of your way so that you can create value, build the economy and aggressively expand wealth that has not happened.

He added that govern­ment should work on pol­icy inconsistence, which has been one of the major problems confronting the sector by encouraging lo­cal content, making sure that values are added to the local produces in other to make them exportable.       The Sun

 

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