2014 Agricultural Transformation Agenda – Counting the Gains
Food for Thought
If you are patriots, you will help Nigeria and participate in Agriculture, you will help your family, and provide jobs for other Nigerians stop waiting for a white collar job because it is limited and even when available, the connected in the society get it. Agriculture can change Nigeria and feed the entire nation if only we can dedicate even half of the attention we dedicate to oil, Nigeria will solve the major problems that befall us.
Obasanjo said in 2006 that young Nigerians approach him every time for a job and when he tells them to come and work in his farm, they decline that they want to work in an oil company. We have got to reevaluate our ideologies and think of our future
The reforms in the nation’s agricultural sector began with the implementation of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), which is an agenda of the federal government aimed at diversifying the economy. While the ATA has not been without its challenges, it recorded plausible transformation of the Agriculture sector in 20014. Ruth Tene Natsa writes on the impact of the ATA in 2014.
According to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, one of the major successes of the ATA is the announcement that Nigeria’s food import bill witnessed a significant reduction from $7bn to$ 4.3bn, which by any estimation, was significant for local production to thrive.
The Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) launched in 2012 is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (FMARD) to support the President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda, with an aim to building commodity value chains as institutions required to unlock the country’s huge agricultural potentials. Its targeted outcome is to add 20 million tonnes of food to the domestic food supply by 2015 and create 3.4 million jobs.
Other goals include to ensure substitution through the acceleration of production of local staples, which is all aimed at reducing dependence on food imports and turning Nigeria into a net food exporter.
According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the strategy of the ATA is to treat Nigerian agriculture as a business, rather than a government funded development project through the development of over 17 value chains which include Rice and Cassava among others.
A major component of the ATA is the use of the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) in reaching farmers with seeds and fertilizers through their telephones or e-wallet system.
According to Akinwumi,“In the past three years, 14 million farmers all across the country have received subsidised seeds and fertilisers through the e-wallet system. And farmers have redeemed a total 1.37 million metric tons of fertiliser worth N151 billion ($915 million) and 102,703 metric tons of improved rice seeds and 67,991 metric tons of improved maize seeds, worth N43 billion ($260 million).”
He particularly noted the success of the GES across the northern states of Nigeria as statistics by the Ministry has revealed that between 2012 and 2014, a total of 10.5 million farmers across the northern states have benefited from the GES program for subsidised farm inputs. 75% of the 14 million farmers, who have benefitted from subsidized farm inputs under the GES scheme, are from northern Nigeria. The highest number of beneficiaries has been in the Northwest with 4.2 million farmers, the North central with 3.4 million farmers and North east with 2.9 million farmers.
Speaking on the success of the GES, Akinwumi said between 2012 and 2014, Nigerian farmers produced an additional 21 million metric tons of food, exceeding the 2015 target of 20 million metric tons. He added that, “Over 3 million farm jobs have been created as youths who used to go from the north to work in the south, often as laborers’ or night guards don’t do that anymore.” “Today, our youths are busy on the farms, growing food in the wet season and the dry season. We have improved food security of 40 million persons in rural farm households. There is new lease of life and vibrancy all across our rural areas.”
The establishment of staple crops processing zones ( SCPZs) aimed at industrialising areas with high potency for a particular farm commodity is another achievement of the ATA. The scpzs are established to take care of harvests, processing, storage and marketing of farm products.
Another success story of the ATA is the inclusion of women farmers in the ATA with the sole purpose of ensuring they get access to financing. This, the federal government has begun to implement by ensuring the allocation of 60% of all agricultural funding are set aside for women farmers.
It is also to be recalled that in 2013, the President directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to set aside N 50 billion Agricultural Mechanization Fund for the roll out of the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises across the country.
The Minister revealed that between 2014 and 2016, the Agricultural Mechanization Fund is expected to establish a minimum of 1,200 Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises (AEHEs) across the nation.
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