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Exploiting Agribusiness Opportunities in Africa: Food Security, Employment, and Economic growth

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In various continents of the world, Agribusiness has been known to be a driver of economic growth. In Africa, it has a positive impact as it accounts for 30% of national income as well as a bulk of export revenues and employment. Kenya for example, is a key producer of tea, accounting for 59.6% of total production in Africa. The country is a leading tea exporter and one of the largest black tea producers in the world. With an estimate of 33 million small holder farms in Africa, a vibrant agriculture driven economy can cause increase in yields, increase in income generation, reduce in post- harvest losses and thereby put an end to food wastage. Agribusiness is capable of initiating the agricultural growth that will positively improve the livelihood of Africa’s increasing population. It can fasten Africa’s progress towards development.

In Nigeria for example, over 78.4 million people are willing, able and actively looking for job, development in agribusiness can have a direct impact on this people because an efficient and effective agribusiness will lead to increased employment in agro industrial activities.

Agribusiness does not only cover farmers it covers input suppliers, agro processors, traders, exporters and retailers. It is a term which indicates farming and all other industries, and services, that constitute the supply chain. The business of agriculture is not to be neglected in development priorities, the focus should not only be on urban industrialization, government need to get their role right on building necessary industrial capability and capacity, strengthening managerial capacity and promoting institutional services.

To successfully achieve desired result in agribusiness, understanding and comprehension of the nature of the business and its untapped opportunities is important. Food importation in African countries has to reduce and promotion of local agricultural products has to be carried out adequately. Although there are challenges as regards climate, policies, governance, laws, infrastructure and basic services, the goals to end poverty, hunger, have improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture should be a focus that will ensure motivation. To reduce the incidence of extreme poverty and unemployment, increase in importation, massive migration of rural peasants into the cities, agribusiness needs to be promoted and financially supported efficiently and effectively.

Africa’s projected population by 2050 is 2 billion; the continent has an estimate of more than one- fourth of the total un-fed people in the world. To guide against starvation, rapid rise in food prices, severe malnutrition, food riots, extreme poverty, higher rate of social vices and diseases; there is indeed a crucial need, to exploit the opportunities in agribusiness and make the business of agriculture more productive and profitable like never before so as to achieve improved social outcomes and solve the problem of poverty and food insecurity.

For a better result, Africa needs to take important decisions concerning agribusiness opportunities and act in a better way.

Written by Idowu T.Owoeye

 

Improving Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria to Boost the Economy and Create Employment

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Agriculture is a very important tool for achieving the Millennium Development Goal. Agriculture is considered a catalyst for the overall development of any nation. In sub-Saharan Africa, Agriculture is a very important tool for improving growth, overcoming poverty and improving food security. It is thus a critical sector that drives the economic development and industrialization of the developing nation, and serve as a means of reducing unemployment. Increase in agricultural productivity is important for growth of the Nigerian economy. Nigeria spends close to $10 billion on food importation annually, if invested in agriculture, this amount would have generated a high percentage of employment.

 

Nigeria has huge agricultural potential with an arable land potential of 98 million hectares, out of which 84 million hectares is cultivatable, Nigeria’s agricultural potential remains untapped.  For a nation to grow its economy and provide employment, the government must be able to do massive investment in Agriculture. But the past and the current administration of this country has not been able to invest massively in Agriculture and has also not been able to tap into the contribution to the economy of the nation. There are some countries that have been able to tap into this benefit and this has subsequently created a rapid growth in economy of those countries e.g. China, Mexico, India, Taiwan, Chile, etc.

In China, agriculture led the way to the emergence of this Asian giant as a major force in the world economy. This is especially remarkable when you consider that China, with a population of over 1.3 billion people, is able to produce enough food for her people, and yet has more than enough extra to make her a major exporter of agricultural produce to the world. The importance of Agriculture as a means of generating employment and also contributing to the growth of the nation’s economy cannot be undermined.

One of the ways in which this present government can lift people out of poverty and provide massive employment opportunity for our youth is by the nation’s massive investment in Agriculture. Agriculture alone can provide millions of job opportunity for our teaming youths who are unemployed.

Factors that continues to affect Agricultural productivity which the Nigerian government have done nothing or little about are enumerated as follows;

Lack of price stability: There has not been a stable price for agricultural produce in this country.   The price of agricultural produce continues to rise and fall, price stabilization is necessary and important if farmers would make good profit from their investments. Farmers are usually discouraged, when low returns are gotten after sales of their products. The government should provide a ready market, buying from small scale farmers and selling to the bigger markets. This helps to avoid the role of middleman in the selling of agricultural products and thus helps keep prices stable.

Poor funding of research in Agriculture: One of the major constraint in agricultural productivity is poor funding of research in agriculture. There should also be an increase funding for research in Agriculture. According to research this country is losing about 24.7% of field crops to infestation of agricultural pests and diseases which usually lead to decrease in agricultural output. By providing funds for research in Agriculture, researchers will be able to breed or develop crops that will be resistance to insect, pest and diseases, therefore reducing or eliminating the use of agrochemicals and also reduce crop loses to pest and diseases. They will also be able to develop crops that are high yielding, nutritious and has fast growth rate.

Decline in agricultural extension services: There has been a decline in agricultural extension services and this has affected agricultural productivity in Nigeria. The government should focus on Agricultural extension services. By this the extension workers will be able to transfer the latest agricultural research or innovation to the farmers. They will also be able to train farmers on how to handle modern technological tools and equipment. By this the farmers will be able to put the knowledge gained into use to boost their agricultural output.

Poor funding of Agricultural sector: Poor funding is a major factor that has continued to affect the growth of Agricultural sector in this country. There should be an increase funding of Agricultural sector. The government at all levels must take the development of agriculture as a national priority. The government should dedicate a larger percentage of its annual budget to the development of the agricultural sector. The government should be able to provide loans with low or without interest to the farmers. The government should also be able to provide free and subsidized agricultural inputs like seeds fertilizers, animal feeds, day old chicks, fish fingerlings, agro-chemicals, technological equipment etc.

Lack of modern agricultural tools and equipment: One of the ways in which we have not been able to increase our agricultural production is that we continue to practice subsistence farming. We should be able to shift from subsistence farming to mechanized farming. For agricultural sector to be developed and employment generated there must be a shift from the traditional methods of farming to a more technologically advanced/mechanized method of farming and high yielding methods of planting. The government should be able to lease out new modern technological equipment at a low rate to the farmers who will not be able to afford it also subsidize it for those who will be able to afford it. By doing so the nation will be able to boost her agricultural productivity.

Lack of storage and processing facilities: Many of agricultural crops are being lost to post harvest losses, 20-40% of crops in Nigeria are being lost to post harvest losses. The government should be able to provide good storage and processing facilities to the rural farmers. Storage and processing of agricultural products is one of the major factors affecting the growth of agricultural sector. Losses experienced after harvesting is very discouraging. It is imperative for the government to put in place a system of ensuring adequate storage and processing of harvested produce as this will stand as a sure way of encouraging farmers and thereby increasing production. Storage and processing are critical in ensuring that the commodities produced at a particular period are available for consumption whenever and wherever they are required.

Lack of rural infrastructure: Infrastructure includes roads and railway system, educational and health facilities, social services such as potable water and electricity and communication system. Agricultural productivity in Nigeria has been negatively affected due to low level of development of infrastructure. In the rural areas where majority of the small holders operate, inadequate infrastructure constitutes a major constraint to agricultural investment, production and trade. Many of the youths in the rural areas have left farming and migrated to the urban areas due to lack of good infrastructure in the rural areas. Therefore government should invest heavily in rural infrastructure development that will promote private investment in all areas of agriculture.

Importation of food items: Continued importation of food items has continued to negatively affect local production of agricultural crops. We continue to import food like rice, maize, wheat, processed tomatoes, frozen foods etc. If we are going to be serious about the development of agricultural sector, we should be able to close our doors to the importation of agricultural products that can be produced or grown successfully in this country. By doing so we will be able to encourage and boost local production and processing of agricultural products.

This blog post was written by Abosede Kayode, A graduate of Agricultural Science from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Ogun state. Nigeria.

He can be contacted via email at kayudex124@gmail.com

REVIVIFYING THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR OF NIGERIA

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Agriculture was a major part of our lives; we were passionate and active about farming. We were once a major exporter of cash crops; in fact we were number one globally in palm oil exports, and exported 47% of all groundnuts. In the 1960s, we produced 18% of cocoa global production which was second in the world. But since the advent of oil glut in the 1980s, a supposed blessing has turned out to be a pain in the neck. The great nation that produces 65% of tomatoes in West Africa is now the largest importer of tomato paste. Shamefully, we are now a   ”major importer”, importing not only rice, sugar, fish, raw cane sugar, durum wheat, frozen foods, crude palm oil, tooth pick etc. but also other household items which include; furniture, children’s toys, wrist watches, artificial hairs, kerosene stoves, cutleries, phones and many other things.

The Nigerian government over the years have failed to properly manage the revenue generated from the export of crude oil, due to corruption and various cases of financial misappropriation that has eaten deep into the system of governance. Channelling of oil revenue into productive sectors such as the agricultural sector was anticipated but didn’t manifest. As a matter of fact, the neglect of agricultural sector cannot be overemphasized; from time to time, different leaders have come up with various assumed revival agricultural programmes, but the level of achievements recorded has been minimal and the country is yet to take her place in the international market a major exporter of agricultural produce.

During the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan; transformation was witnessed in the agricultural sector, when Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, a renowned agricultural economist was appointed Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. The minister’s agenda successfully encouraged the participation of foreign investors, and boosted increased rice, cassava and yam production. Also, farm inputs such as fertilizers got to farmers directly and reduced the presence of middlemen significantly. More so, there was a significant reduction in food importation bill. The tremendous success recorded during Dr. Adesina’s tenure as Minister of Agriculture is attributed to the fact that an agricultural expert steered the wheels of the sector. One of the reasons why the agricultural sector has been less-productive is because those that held crucial positions in the sector in the past were in no way inclined with agriculture. There is a need to shun political favouritism and put the right people at the right place of governance in Nigeria. Ministries, agencies and other governing bodies should be directed by people that have the required knowledge and ability to turn things around for good. It should be known that a redirected focus on agricultural production and processing by inclined expertise and diligent management is a great platform for wealth creation and poverty eradication in the country.

Even though the resource of Nigeria is undeniable, proactive decisions have to be taken for the country to take her rightful place in Africa; and the world.  The country has to DIVERSIFY. Recently, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State said that his administration will focus on agriculture because of ”its multiplier effects”. He also said emphatically that agriculture will create employment and provide food security for the state. He stated that, agriculture will allow a safe society; because if the people are busy and well fed they will not involve themselves in violence.

Revivifying the agricultural sector goes beyond setting up various committees to look into issues, it goes beyond organising seminars and conferences where analysis of problems are done.  The truth is we already know our problems, what we need is the idea that will bring solutions, practical solutions, and the passion to tackle these problems and initiate the positive solutions. It’s a tough job, but it is not impossible.

Here are few tips I believe will greatly revolutionize the agricultural sector. I strongly believe a revival in the agricultural sector will make Nigeria a force to reckon with.

  • RE-BRANDING AGRICULTURE: The first beautiful step that must be taken is to ”rebrand” agriculture entirely. When we talk about rebranding, it’s all about changing the whole picture, changing how it is being portrayed. This will help to attract everybody in the country, especially youths. Agriculture should no longer be viewed as a ”dirty job”. Until we rebrand agriculture, the teeming youths may never embrace it, until our government show signs of seriousness to rebrand the sector, the populace may not take agriculture with great importance.
    This is a call to the government, major stakeholders as well as private investors to rebrand this major sector of the economy and make it attractive and lucrative. Agriculture is green and beautiful.
    Social media platforms are great tools that should be used for extensive campaigns to capture the hearts of the populace. Once agriculture is well portrayed, it will get the necessary attention.
  • ENCOURAGING CAREERS IN AGRICULTURE: A special call should be made to parents and guardians to stop discouraging young ones that earnestly want to pursue various careers in agriculture. It’s discouraging telling people you are studying agriculture and they reply with, ”its pure waste of time and energy”.  The best brains are needed to revive this sector; there are various agricultural courses that young ones should be encouraged to study.
    If agricultural students no longer have difficulty in obtaining scholarships just like their colleagues in the medical and engineering field there will be increased relevance of agriculture. One of the strategic ways of encouraging careers in agriculture is to award scholarships to agricultural students. This is a wakeup call for the government and several agro-based companies to give out scholarships and academic research grants to scholars in the agricultural field, it will be a morale booster.
  • WELL-MANAGED FUNDING AND EASY ACCESS TO FARM INPUTS: The agricultural sector lacks proper funding and an effective management system.  The government and private investors should join forces to finance agricultural activities, so as to create wealth and alleviate poverty through public-private partnership.  Access to mechanised farm tools and farm inputs should be made easy. The administration of Dr. Adesina saw to the elimination of middlemen in the distribution of fertilizers to farmers. It goes beyond allocating big chunks of money to the sector. Allocated funds should be well accounted for and used for intended purposes. Farmers should have access to incentives and loans with ease.
    Corruption and wasteful spending should be eliminated.
  • EXTENSION SERVICES: Maximizing profit in agriculture requires having the right information and having it at the right time.
    This is where agricultural extension and communication experts are needed, new innovations that will increase the knowledge of farmers should be adopted because agriculture is a big picture, and it requires everybody playing a significant role.

The next big step that should be taken in the agricultural sector of this great nation should focus on three core objectives:

  • Food and Nutrition Security
  • Employment Generation
  • Wealth Creation

According to an agricultural expert, Folu Mogaji, ”the next biggest goldmine in Nigeria is Agribusiness”, but is Nigeria well positioned to be currently taken advantage of? Whether at production stage, processing or at the marketing stage, the government and citizens must channel positive energies into agriculture. In revivifying this sector totally, the government should ensure economic co-operation among states, create readily available markets for exportation of agricultural products, provide basic amenities, and also provide good storage facilities.

The Nigerian flag looks so beautiful and significant.  The green depicts agriculture and the white depicts peace. I believe there is a great connection between agriculture and the peace of our beloved country.
Revivifying the Nigerian Agricultural Sector Will Unite Nigerians And Bring Peace To Our Nation.

Fatokun Olukayode Adewale, is a 300level Student Of The Federal University Of Technology, Akure.

Agriculture: The magic wand that guarantees millions of job opportunities and eradicates poverty

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The significance of agriculture resource in bringing about economic growth and sustainable development of a nation cannot be underestimated. Hence the amount of the economic growth largely depends on importance the government attached to it in funding, formulation and holistically implementing of the policy.

About 55.9 million representing 33.1% of Nigeria population are living below acceptable poverty line and about 23.9% unemployment rate (NBS 2014). And the good news is that it has been estimated a 1% increase in crop yields results in a 0.5-0.8% reduction in poverty. (KPMG 2013). It has also been established that agric contribute 30% to Nigeria’s GDP and it’s the largest employer of labour in the country 65% (CBN). With the current drop in general price of oil in international market and massive unemployment in Nigeria, agriculture is the big deal and it’s the solution to our poverty reduction and unemployment problem. Opportunities to take advantage of rapidly growing agribusiness landscape abound and there is need for the new government to diversify and maximize the opportunity.

A strong and efficient agricultural sector would enable a country to feed its growing population, generate employment, earn foreign exchange and provide raw materials for industries. The agricultural sector has a multiplier effect on any nation’s socio-economic and industrial fabric because of the multifunctional nature of agriculture (Ogen 2007). Agriculture’s contribution to the Gross Domestic product (GDP) has remained stable at between 30 and 42 percent, and employs 65 per cent, of the labour force in Nigeria (Emeka 2007).

The challenges and obstacles which have held Nigerian agriculture sector back are considerable: yields are one of the lowest in the world and have been growing relatively slowly. As a result, imports for staples such as wheat, and rice have been rising steadily. The reasons are many and complex: lack of land rights, limited credit availability, low levels of investment and input usage, whether in quality seed, fertilizers, crop protection products, irrigation or machinery; poorly developed infrastructure and supply chains; and low levels of inter-regional trade, hampered by Government policy and monopolistic barriers. Judiciously implementing the reviewed President Umaru Musa Yaradua’s agricultural policy curled from Segun Adeniyi’s ‘Power, Politics and Death’ outlined below will do the country lots of good in reducing poverty, sustain food security and generate massive employment.

1. N500bn commercial agriculture credit scheme with single digit interest rate should be designed to solve one of the major problems of commercial farming in Nigeria which is lack of credit facilities. CBN should be allowed to disburse this fund with the help of bank of agriculture to disburse to large scale and small scale farmers and remove the bottleneck that can deny the smallholder farmers access to the fund and introduction of CCT conditional cash transfer.

2. Construction of silos and ware house complexes which is designed to serve multiple purposes including storage, cleaning and washing sorting packaging standardization and market outlet and transport corridor to the market should be constructed in grain centres in the country combined with one on ground and increase the storage capacity of the present one.

3. One stop agro-input centres should be designed to serve as one stop for shop where farmers could purchase high grade agricultural inputs such as seedlings, fertilizers, animal feeds, agro chemical and tractors each centres was to have the capacity to store up to 2000 metric tonnes of inputs and should be collaborating with research institute like IITA, ILRI, CRIN, NIHORT etc for smooth operation and sharing of resources.

4. Integrated livestock centers – this estate is to provide integrated infrastructure for the development of livestock industry and its sub sector with its relevant value chain. The livestock estate will include grazing areas, breeding centre, covered and opened pen for large and small ruminant with micro-livestock, dairy processing of cow and goat milk, modern abattoirs, leather treatment centres, meat processing plant, cold store with blast freezer, modern meat supermarket. This should be connected with livestock research institute for sharing of resources and smooth running.

5. Integrated fish estate – these fish estates are designed to provide integrated infrastructure for the development of the fishery sub-sector and its relevant value chain. The fishery estates will includes ponds, hatcheries, processing plants for smoking and preservation, training centres, feed mills, laboratories for research, cold stores and marketing centres, this estates will be built across the state selected and known for fish farming.

6. Outgrowers development and extension service; these centres were to intensify the growth of large scale agric business as well as create a new generation of farmers in Nigeria they were to be built along the agro input centres which will include farmers market, processing and storage facilities water for irrigation housing with training up to 2000 extension workers.

7. Export handling, preservation and conditioning centers – These centres will be designed to reduce post harvest losses and ensure the agricultural products from Nigeria can compete well in the international market. Facilities in these centres will include washing, drying and storage chambers, sorting, grading and packaging facilities and temperature and cold store and blast freezing humidity control facilities.

The agribusiness sector’s value chain spans input companies, farmers, traders, food companies and retailers, all of whom must ultimately satisfy the varying demands of the consumer in a sustainable manner. The sector encompasses huge diversity and variety at each stage, from input companies to generic manufacturers, subsistence farmers to high tech agro holdings, biotech, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to multinational corporations. Millions of direct and indirect job guaranteed and Opportunities to take advantage of this rapidly growing agribusiness landscape abound.

The Agricultural sector contributes significantly to Nigeria’s GDP. The employment base of the Nigeria economy ought to be dependent on this sector. It is well over due for the Nigerian economy to diversify. The negative perception and orientation of the average Nigerian about the agriculture sector should be disabused so that these sectors can contribute optimally to GDP and solve the unemployment problem in the country.

The new Government should increase her budgetary allocation to this sector in a consistent manner because of its importance to the national economy, hoping that with proper monitoring of fund, it would contribute more significantly to the economy of the country. An effective utilization of such funds is also advocated and all areas of wastage blocked. The smallholder farmers who live in the rural areas and who are the major providers of food for the nation should be adequately catered for by making the rural areas more conducive and habitable, the provision of adequate infrastructural facilities such as good roads, pipe borne water and electricity. The provision of these facilities will no doubt impact positively on the small holder farmers’ productivity.

Adesola Femi a trained Animal scientist from Federal University of Technology Akure
Adesolafemigab@gmail.com
08064799553

First published here