April 21, 2024

Agric experts present report to salvage food crisis

Agric experts present report to salvage food crisis

By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja

AS Nigerians remain in the quagmire of high food prices, some agricultural sector experts, weekend, presented a report on how to salvage the food crisis challenge in the country.

The Country Lead, Netherlands African Business Council, Kabiru Ademoh, explained the essence of the report is to measure the impact of certain policies, systemic shocks, and how it is affecting the farmers’ productivity.

Ademoh also expressed optimism that the report will serve as a way to help policymakers make better policies that would help the farmers’ productivity.

Meanwhile, stakeholders at the presentation of the report, which is part of the HortiNigeria Programme, include the President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Ibrahim Kabir; Directors from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, academia, farmers, and development partners.

He said: “We are really trying to measure the impact of some of the policies on the economy. As a business council, we have our foot on the ground. We understand agribusiness, we understand the context both in Nigeria and on other continents.

“So what we have done in this situation is to measure the impact of certain policies, certain systemic shocks, and how it is affecting the farmers.

“We get those data and we merge our quantitative data on the field of what has changed with the perception of the farmers.

“And what we are able to find out is that a lot of the perception of the farmers matches with what we are noticing on the field.

“We believe that this will serve as a way to help our policymakers make better policies that help the farmers to be more productive.”

However, according to him (Ademoh), agricultural system efficiency is traceable to the protracted war between Russia and Ukraine, post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery, fuel subsidy removal, insecurity, high exchange rates, and others.

“So what we studied on this were some systemic shocks on some government policies that ranged from the effect of global challenges, like the war in Ukraine and Russia, to the post-pandemic recovery, down to the removal of the fuel subsidies, the fiscal policies of the central bank in trying to stabilize the naira, and also some of our border restrictions and import restrictions as it relates to agriculture.

“So what we have done is to take some of these factors, measure how it affects vegetable farmers in Nigeria, particularly in Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna and Kano States.

“So what we have seen affecting the farmers is a rise in production costs. While we see a lot of the farmers improving their productivity, their profitability has not really increased.

“So we noticed a lot of farmers losing a lot of their profits to higher energy and input costs.

“We also noticed a lot of farmers not being able to reinvest properly or scale their operations because with the advent of the cashless economy, a lot of their financial histories are lost.

“Most of these people use financial services from third parties like the PoS vendors. So what we noticed is that a lot of farmers are not able to document their financial history, which makes it very opaque and very unattractive for formal financial institutions to help them with financing that would have helped them to scale through.”

Meanwhile, he said as part of solutions to these challenges, it is imperative to have “what we called the Climate Smart Horticultural Fund and the Dutch Diamond approach.

“The Fund will pull resources either from the traditional banks or from impact investors so that there are ways for people that want to invest in climate-smart horticultural, to have a cheaper way of accessing financing.

“We also want this Fund to be able to give out grants to young business owners that want to go into the sector but do not have the financial capacity to use some of those innovations, like smarter irrigations, better hybrid seeds, some of the fertilizers that are out of their reach.

“We hope that with this climate-smart horticultural fund, we can channel and funnel investment both from the private sector, both from the government, both from donor agencies into this fund and it will support in scaling and expanding our vegetable growing sector.”

He also explained about how the ‘Dutch Diamond’, “What we try to do is create a high-level delegation that represents different parts of the value chain.

“We have people in banking, we have people that make policies, we have people that represent the farmers. We believe that cascading it down to the top will get the farmers to feel the impact of policies. But the policies have to be shaped in a way that will reflect everybody in the chain of opinion.

“If we have policies been developed just by the bankers, it might not favour some of the farmer groups. But with this approach of the Dutch Diamond, we have the knowledge institution on the table, we have the bankers on the table so everyone is represented.”

He disclosed that “We have been able to reach, through the HortiNigeria 63, 000 farmers across North and South of Nigeria in over three to four years and that was the target of reaching entrepreneurs in the South and smallholder farmers in the North. We were looking at 60,000. But we have gone over the target.”

Meanwhile, according to the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Arc Ibrahim Kabir, the Tinubu-led administration is deliberately and determined to upscale food production, and has gone into collaboration with international partners.