President Bola Tinubu’s ambitious strategy to accelerate Nigeria’s elusive journey towards food security has sparked optimism among stakeholders in the agricultural sphere, and by extension, the broader economy. Careful consideration has been given to both the positive and negative aspects of this plan.
For numerous Nigerian households grappling with the challenge of high food prices, the prospects for a brighter future seemed to fade after President Bola Tinubu’s decision to eliminate fuel subsidies. However, a glimmer of hope has re-emerged as the president directs his attention towards bolstering the agricultural sector.
While the populace is enthused by the president’s announced initiatives aimed at ensuring food security, there remains a sense of cautious anticipation among Nigerians. History has shown that there can often be a disparity between policy pronouncements and their effective implementation.
Undoubtedly, President Tinubu has revitalized Nigerians’ aspirations for achieving food security, evident in the reactions documented by NewsNGR from stakeholders nationwide. Nevertheless, concerns persist that the proposed plans may not yet be fully comprehensive to dispel uncertainties about their potential success.
- Prompt attention – the president gave immediate attention to the issue of food security upon assumption of office, this may or may not be because the removal of subsidy caused a sharp rise in prices of food against a backdrop of declining purchasing power.
- Prioritisation – with the declaration of a state of emergency on food insecurity and its inclusion in the National Security Council agenda, food security has become a front-burner issue.
- Strengthened synergy with stakeholders – the directive of the president that the Ministry of agriculture and the Ministry of water resources work closely to provide farmlands and irrigation for farmers will accelerate the area of land under cultivation.
- Onboarding of stakeholders – onboarding of relevant private sector stakeholders in a decision-making body will help to close the gap in planning and further streamline policy delivery channels.
- Renaming of ministry – to reflect his agenda for food security, President Tinubu has renamed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
- Appointment of experts as ministers – the minister of agriculture and his counterpart in water resources Mr Abubakar Kyari and Prof Joseph Utsev respectively have past work experiences in the sector and are well-armed with the capacities to deliver on their mandates.
- No clear timelines – it is not clear from the statements made by the president and his aides, what the timeline for the immediate plan is and when to expect plans for the medium and long-term strategies.
- Renaming may jettison linkage between food production and rural development – with an already established strong linkage between food production and the rural areas, shifting attention from rural development as the renaming might suggest, could hamper food production and delivery to urban centres. According to IFAD, 90% of the food consumed in Nigeria is produced by small-holder farmers in the rural areas, on un-irrigated plots wholly dependent on rainfall.
- Lacks comprehensive coverage of mechanisation – the brief detail of mechanisation under the president’s plan, stopped at land clearing intervention. A broader summary should have integrated digitalisation and artificial intelligence, which now aids precision farming across the globe.
What Stakeholders are saying
Arc Kabir Ibrahim – National President of All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria, Katsina:
- “The President’s decision to rename the FMARD as Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) speaks volumes of the Administration’s desire to make Nigeria food secure within a short time.
- “Appointing relatively young people to drive the quest for the attainment of food security is also a step in the right direction.
- “The Ministries of Water Resources, Defence, Environment and Ecological Management, Aviation, Transportation, Power, Finance, Trade & Investment, as well as the CBN, Works and the new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, must work lockstep with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to fast track the attainment of food security in Nigeria.
- “A periodic monitoring and evaluation of all policy implementation by Mr President is absolutely necessary to ensure success in the effort to attain food security.”
Mr Al-Mustapha Ibrahim, Chairman Kwara Agriculture Network, Kwara state:
- “The Renaming of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security will consolidate the success recorded in the Agriculture and Food industry over the decades. Meanwhile, there’s a strong nexus between Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development.
- “Globally, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is mandated to ensure food security, employment generation and wealth creation through improved commodity value chain activities and rural infrastructural development. This tends to justify the renaming of the Ministry after Food Security which is supposedly the first component of the mandate of the Ministry.
- “Undoubtedly, Food security is crucial and pertinent to achieving the Global Sustainable Development Goal 2; Zero Hunger and we can only talk of Zero Hunger when specific attention is paid to Food security. However, Food Security cannot be attained if adequate attention is not geared towards rural infrastructure development as this is the key to efficiency in Agriculture along its value chain.
- “While the Ministry should be committed to fighting food insecurity at all levels, the need to prioritize rural development in policy making and implementation cannot be overemphasized.
Tunde Banjoko, Agricultural specialist, Author, and MD of B.O Farms Ltd, Lagos state:
- “It is action that we need, not name change. Although, I think it is to reflect what the President did some months back, putting food insecurity under a state of emergency and making it the purview of the National Executive Council.
- “Sincerely, what I would love to see is the how and the execution of the 11-point agenda and strategy on food security as listed by the president.”
Dr. Austine Maduka, General Secretary, National Agricultural Commodities Project, Abuja, FCT:
- “The name change is a welcome development, as the rural development department has failed in their responsibility – Agriculture and Rural Development has not really worked.
- “However, the minister should develop National Goals for Rural Development and Food Security.”
Yinka Adebayo, catfish farmer, Ikorodu, Lagos state:
- “Of what use is the change in nomenclature if agricultural policies are not diligently and transparently implemented?
Making it work for all
Nigeria’s agricultural value-chain holds a lot of untapped potentials for attaining food security and can be unlocked through local and foreign direct investments.
However, policy makers mandated with making the sector appealing and suitable for investors and other stakeholders, need to work assiduously against actions capable of extinguishing the hope which President Tinubu has rekindled in the hearts of a global audience.
While the intentions of President Tinubu for food security have been made quite clear, it is pertinent that a well-articulated timeline must be crafted and monitored to the letter by his policy managers and the National Executive Council.
Strong assurances must also be given to stakeholders in the sector, that the development of rural infrastructure that supports food production, remains an integral priority for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
Apart from the specific agencies of government that have been mandated to support the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, two other ministries namely: the Ministry of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy as well as the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology must be partnered with, to accelerate adoption of advanced and innovative technologies across the agricultural value-chain.
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