The Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture have been urged to promote demand-driven agriculture to develop the sector, rather than the supply-driven, which is prevalent now.
Emmanuel Ijewere, Vice President of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NAGB), gave the advice while speaking in Lagos on the zero interest financing the Federal Government announced that would provide for two million smallholder farmers nationwide under its Agric for Food and Jobs Plan.
He said that what government had played so much emphasis on since independence had been a supply- based agriculture, which he said was wrong to do that as agriculture should be demand-based.
“I think it is a wrong approach first and foremost I believe that the Minister should be first of all be talking about food security in Nigeria, the situation about jobs is easy; our farmers are employed but the first thing is that they are discouraged, they produce so much, but so much of it is lost.
“I would have suggested that the Minister of Agriculture and indeed the government policy would be bringing in off-takers. What government has played so much emphasis on since independence has been a supply-based agriculture, it is wrong to do that, agriculture should be demand-based.
“With 200 million Nigerians we have a lot of mouth to feed but a lot of the food the hardworking and reliable farmers have been doing get lost and it never gets to your table so in all this, they have not looked at the real problem of the farmers,” he added.
While commenting on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plan to fund 1.6 million farmers for this wet season, Ijewere said apex bank had been in the forefront of developing agriculture in Nigeria because it had the right formula and the right attitude.
“They based their policies on a demand-based economy that means people say; this is what we want, then they go to people who will produce it for them.
“Usually people who say this is what we want are usually financially stronger than those who are doing the production, so bringing the two of them together is a partnership and that is what the CBN is really putting together under the Anchors Borrowers Programme (ABP).
“I will commend the CBN for what they are doing and they should continue doing it, there is a lot of problem at the beginning, they should not be discouraged,” he added.
Oba Dokun Thompson, the Oloni of Eti-Oni and the Chairman of Eti-Oni Development Group, in his view, stated that over the last few years, the nation has had serious security issues and challenges across the country and that experts have also predicted the negative impact this will have on food production, availability and supply in the immediate future.
“This combined with the recent COVID-19 and its attendant disruption of global economic activities, the Nigerian farmers, most being small holder farmers have also not been spared with little or no capacity for storage facilities or value addition capabilities to boost earnings or increase the life span of their produce before consumption,”
Oba Thompson, an international cocoa trader, said the CBN intervention was timely and would not only restore the confidence in the agriculture sector, but also help revive morale of farmers.
He said the initiative would possibly help address some of the security issues around lives and properties which could lead to food security and economic development because lack of funding is a major challenge in the agriculture sector.
Oba Thompson said that the nation needed home grown solutions and as much as local funding as possible if the nation is ready to develop its agriculture sector.
“The CBN intervention is timely and will not only restore the confidence in the agriculture sector but also help revive morale of farmers and possibly help address some of the security issues around lives and properties which can lead to food security and economic development because lack of funding is a major challenge in the agriculture sector,” he said.
Nurudeen Tiamiyu, National Vice President, Tilapia Aquaculture Developers Association of Nigeria (TADAN) said the policy would go the same way of the past initiatives, except if the CBN would seek the participation of the real stakeholders.
He said that so many good initiatives like this have gone down the drain with no impact.