Agricultural Promotion Policy Will Focus On Closing Demand — Supply Gaps

By JIMOH BABATUNDE
The Minister of of Agriculture & Rural Development,
Audu Ogbeh, has said that inability to meet domestic
food requirements and inability to export at quality
levels required for market success are two major gaps in
the country’s agriculture today.
Speaking ahead of the the
official launch and public
presentation of the Agricultural
Sector Roadmap (the Green
Alternative), Agricultural
Promotion Policy (2016 – 2020),
earlier scheduled for Monday in
Abuja, Ogbeh said it has
become imperative to “refresh
our strategy” to tackle these
two issues head on.
The minister explained that the
policy of the past government ,
Agricultural Transformation
Agenda (ATA) focused on how to
make Nigeria’s agriculture more
productive, efficient and effective.
“It set a target of creating 3.5 million jobs by 2015;
generating foreign exchange, and reducing spending on
food imports. Among its key achievements was a
restructuring of the federal fertilizer procurement
system.
“ATA, however, also faced challenges and did not deliver
on all the targets identified. For example, Nigeria still
imports about $3 to $5 billion worth of food annually,
especially wheat, rice, fish and sundry items, including
fresh fruits.
“As a result, Nigeria is not food secure. Wastage levels
remain high in production areas, reducing supply of
feedstock to processing factories, requiring them to keep
importing supplies. The net effect is limited job growth
across the agricultural value chain from input production
to market systems, and continued use of limited foreign
currency earnings to import vast quantities of food.
The Minister said the policy and strategic focus is now on
how to build on the initial progress made, and transition
Nigeria to a new plane in terms of agribusiness
performance.
“That will be the focus of the proposed new policy
regime. That new policy’s primary focus will be on
closing the demand – supply gaps between crop and
livestock production. Gap closing will also include
tackling related input, financing, storage, transport and
market access issues present in key value chains.
“Nigeria is facing two key gaps in agriculture today: an
inability to meet domestic food requirements, and an
inability to export at quality levels required for market
success. The former problem is a productivity challenge
driven by an input system and farming model that is
largely inefficient. As a result, an ageing population of
farmers do not have enough seeds, fertilizers, irrigation,
crop protection and related support to be successful.
“The latter challenge is driven by an equally inefficient
system for setting and enforcing food quality standards,
as well as poor knowledge of target markets. Insufficient
food testing facilities, a weak inspectorate system in the
ministry, and poor coordination among relevant federal
agencies serve to compound early stage problems such
as poor knowledge of permissible contaminant levels.”
Audu Ogbeh added that as productivity improves
domestically and standards are raised for all Nigerian
food production, he said export markets will also benefit
impacting positively on Nigeria’s balance of payments.
He explained that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture &
Rural Development (FMARD) in consultation with
partners has identified an initial pool of crops and
related activities that will be Nigeria’s path to tackling the
identified gaps.
“First, the ministry will prioritize improving productivity
into a number of domestically focused crops and
activities. These are rice, wheat, maize, fish
(aquaculture), dairy milk, soya beans, poultry,
horticulture (fruits and vegetables), and sugar.
“Nigeria believes that the gap can be closed by
partnering closely with private investors across farmer
groups and companies to develop end to end value
chain solutions. These chains will receive facilitated
government support as they make deep commitments to
engaging a new generation of farmers, improving supply
of specialized fertilizers and protection chemicals, as
well as wider scale use of high yielding seeds.
He said the country will work with investors to sharply
improve the distribution system for fresh foods so as to
reduce time to table, reduce post-harvest losses, and
overall improve nutritional outcomes by lowering of
diabetic risk and stunting risk among others.

Source: Vanguard News

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