Africa: Any hope for increased allocation to agric sector?


When African countries came together to agree on increasing funding for the agricultural sector, through the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), their aim was to increase agric productivity in the continent. But 15 years down the line, has much changed?
BENJAMIN UMUTEME writes
In 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique, African countries came together and agreed on the principles of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) that mandated member states to set aside a minimum of 10 per cent of their annual national budget dedicated to agriculture.
Part of the principles of the programme is that the sector must grow at a minimum of 6 per cent growth rate for the continent in order to achieve the MDG-1; it was also expected to reflect the broader principles of mutual review dialogue, accountability and partnerships of NEPAD.
Nigeria signed the CAADP compact on 30th October, 2009, prepared a National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP) and established a CAADP Country Team structure for the implementation of the investment plan which culminated in the inauguration of a Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System node steering committee on 14th December, 2010 for effective monitoring and evaluation.

The CAADP Compact
According to the programme compact signed by the country, the programme will set the parameters for long term partnership in the agricultural sector; it specifies key commitments on the part of government partners; clarifies expectations with respect to the agribusiness and farming communities in order to ensure a successful implementation of the 5 point Agriculture agenda. Ultimately, CAADP will help meet the short and long term investment needs of the sector.
The Malabo declaration was further reinforced in 2014, as the African Union adopted a declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihood.
Similarly, at the domestic level, the federal government designed and produced a framework for agriculture, the Agriculture Promotion Policy APP (popularly named the Green Alternative) as a strategic guiding instrument for the implementation of key targets and overall vision in the agriculture and food security sector of the economy.

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Investments remain low
Like participants at a stakeholders meeting on the CAADP and other agricultural policies in the country recently in Abuja did note that despite being signatory to the CAADP Principles, Nigeria’s agriculture investment architecture since 2011 till date still remained below (1.8 per cent, 1.6 per cent, 1.7 per cent, 1.4 per cent, 0.9 per cent, 1.3 per cent, and 1.8 per cent respectively.
Analysts continue to question the commitment of countries who signed the agreement saying they have not shown enough pokitical will commit to the full implementation of the CAADP framework. For instance, Nigeria’s proposed allocation to the Agric sector in 2018 budget is N118.98 billion.
While, it may sign an increase of N15.19 billion over the N103.79 billion allocated to the sector in 2017, it has however not addressed several burning issues that have continued to militate the growth of the sector.
Like the National President of National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Ken Ukaoha rightly observed, the perceived weak monitoring of the several policies in the sector results in poor results.

Same old song
Over the years, the agriculture sector has suffered as a result of the lip-service government pay to the development of the sector. Though, billions of naira has been pumped into the sector, nothing much seem to have changed.
From lack of access to finance by small holder farmers to nonexistent storage facilities, bad roads and a high level of subsistence farming in the country, production in the sector has remained largely on the poor side across the continent.
However, since the coming of the present administration of President Muhammad Buhari, the story seem to have changed a little with the Anchor Borrowers Scheme that is powered by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which has empowered dozens of small time rice farmers across the country.
This seem to have galvanised the sector as rice production increased leading to a reduction in the amount of foreign exchange spent to import rice.

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What has changed
In spite of these drawbacks, the result of the CAADP programme has been encouraging to say the least. There has been minimal increase in the sector. Between 2003 and 2010, the share of agriculture expenditure averaged 4 per cent from 3 per cent in the 1995-2003 period.
Also, the sector’s growth rate averaged 4.7 per cent in the 2003-2013 period compared to 3.5 per cent in the 1990-2002 period. In addition, growth continued but slower increase in cereals import dependently from 31.4 per cent in 2002 to 31.7 per cent in 2011.
The result since CAADP came to be has encouraged and facilitated evidence based planning review and a sense of mutual sustainability for action and results.

Recommendations
At the stakeholders meeting by agricultural sector stakeholders, participants recommended that there should be a guaranteed funding mechanisms for agricultural extension, government should set up an Extension Service Development Fund with the following possible cost sharing formula: Federal government 40%, State government 45%, Local Government Council 10%, and Farmer-based Organizations/Benefitting Communities/farmers 5%; while also considering setting aside 5% of agricultural export tax and 10% of agricultural import tax to facilitate agricultural extension among others.
Participants observed with regrets that Nigeria has underperformed on the implementation of her CAADP/Malabo commitments given that the country scores only 3.4 out of the required minimum threshold of 3.9 percent of the maximum 10 percent benchmark. Under-listed are thematic areas which are specific indicators showing Nigerias poor performance: (i) Low Hunger and Nutrition political commitment Index, (ii) Low capacity to execute regular planning and M&E, (iii) Poor Institutionalization of Mutual Accountability Mechanism (progress towards meeting the Malabo target is rather slow judging by the 44.4 percent attained compared with the 2018 target of 100 percent), (iv) Problematic Access to Land, inputs and finance, (v) Declining Growth Rate in Crops, (vi) Weak Performance of the Livestock and Fishery Sector, (vii) Food Price Volatility, and (viii) Food and Nutrition insecurity, etc. Government and stakeholders should therefore channel efforts and mobilize actions towards improving these themes for the country to scale through the doldrums.
Participants agreed that NSAs have a moral responsibility and are better placed to engage and monitor government, development partners and other agriculture-related stakeholders with a view to influencing transparency and accountability in the system and mobilizing effective actions towards the realization of CAADP/Malabo commitments. Specifically, the need to constructively critique work plan in line with the mutual accountability provisions and engage with the monitoring of core project sites and locations were emphasized as critical elements for food and nutrition security in Nigeria journey to fulfilling her national and regional/continental agric-policy obligations.
They further noted with commendation some agriculture-related initiatives of the Nigerian government such as the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS), Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and the Anchor Borrowers Scheme (ABS) which are targeted at directly providing required inputs access to farmers for increased productivity.



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