By Jimoh Babatunde
Smallholder farmers in Nigeria are already benefiting from $700,000 grants from the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in a move seen as helping them to leverage on getting the right inputs like quality, certified and improved seeds as well as fertilizers.
Last week, the Micro Reforms for African Agribusiness in Nigeria (MIRA) met with stakeholders under the aegis of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group in Lagos on how to implement the partnership agreement with AGRA that is expected to change the landscape of small holder farmers in Nigeria.
Speaking at the meeting, Dr. Tony Bello, MIRA National Coordinator, said the meeting was to clearly define what the road map on implementation would be as they generate policies options, micro policy reform for fertilizers and seeds sub sector as well as even extending it to financing option.
“Today we have come up with implementation partnership agreement among the stakeholders that will change the landscape of small holder farmers in Nigeria. We will want to model that all across all other Africa countries.”
While noting that moving forward that AGA will be signing a cooperation framework agreement with Nigeria Government, Bello said they intend growing the demand side of the agricultural sector, “let us do it from the demand side and not the supply side.
He said the supply side has been great as it has enabled Nigeria to sustain food security, “but in diversifying away the economy of Nigeria from oil is about meeting the raw material demand of the processors. These are the policies options we want to pursue and we are co- pursuing with the ministry of agriculture.
We will be able to give the government all the metrics to make decision and make decision on the policy option to pursue as AGRA is just facilitating and not formulating policy.
Bello added that AGRA identified low hanging fruits in the seeds and fertilisers sub sectors in 2014 and that cumulated in the launch of the Micro Reform for Africa agribusiness in 2015.
“Since then they have awarded grants to the private sectors in terms of implementation of policy reforms options for both seeds and fertilisers. I think we have received about $700, 000 in grants from AGRA.”
He said the grants will go a long way to bringing in millions of small holders farmers and making sure they get the right inputs like seeds and fertilizers “that are needed to ensure we have not just food security , but security of supplies of raw materials for agro processors and agro allied industries.”
Bello said the funding is unique as it is targeting policy option, how to capacitate government and give them true demand side policy design, policy formulation as well as policy implementation. “What would be the cost to government? The goal is not really how many smallholder farmers you can reach today, but how we create the enabling environment for the smallholder farmers to grow.