The Agricultural Policy Research Network (APRnet) has asserted that for the current agricultural policy process to succeed there is need for the Federal government to strengthen the National Council on Agriculture (NAC) by increasing its institutional capability.
APRnet advised that NAC should be more equipped to facilitate peer review and mutual learning among the States, nation-wide tracking of agricultural policy and programmes and maximising synergy between the Federal and State Governments.
The advice was contained in a release by the president of APRnet, Prof. Eric Eboh, he commended the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on the value chain approach to commodity development, describing it as a welcome departure from past approaches which tended to by supply-driven, without commensurate strategies to develop market linkages.
He explained that APRNet is a stakeholders’ organisation devoted to promoting agric prosperity, economic growth and poverty reduction in Nigeria by using research and evidence to inform and stimulate good and effective agricultural and rural development policies and programmes.
He also said that the goal of the organisation is to make research work for end-users including policymakers, farmers, investors and practitioners.
He pointed out that the use of staple crop processing zones to target value chain development is a widely applicable international best practice and should be pursued intensively.
Eboh added that existing cooperation and collaboration between the Federal Government and the State Governments are necessary to achieve synergy and complementarities in delivering and good policies and programmes to boost the agricultural and rural sector.
“It is highly commendable that there is an ongoing project to produce comprehensive farmer database for the country, on a progressive basis. The database will contribute valuable information about and clarify the characteristics of the Nigerian farmer, for planning and policy implementation purposes,” he said.
He said that APRNet welcomes the creation of implementation, management and supervision organs for the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
Some of the organs he listed include the Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (AITIC), Agricultural Value Chain Transformation Implementation Group (AVCTEG), and Agricultural Industry Advisory Group (AIAG).
Others which he also mentioned are NIRSAL Implementation Group (NIRSALEG) Agricultural Investment Transformation Implementation Group (AITEG) and Agricultural Transformation Policy Advisory Group.
He opined that effective functioning of these organs will ensure required backstopping of implementation and monitoring and evaluation feedback for greater impacts.
“The prioritisation of commodities for value chain development is commendable and timely, because it will help to focus government’s resource allocation and align private investments to national goals and objectives of food and nutritional security, poverty alleviation, import substitution and agricultural transformation,” he said.
According to him, Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) has great potential to trigger a market-oriented, private sector led and business-oriented agricultural investment and growth in the country.
He pointed out that the component features and design of the Scheme are good for solving the bottlenecks against private investments in agriculture, agribusiness and agricultural productivity.
Eboh said, “The fertiliser subsidy reforms are rightly addressing the lingering weaknesses and bottlenecks in the fertiliser supply chain. It provides the opportunities to improve efficiency, outreach and impact of the fertiliser subsidy programme.”
He also welcomed the reforms of the commodity marketing system and the proposed marketing corporations.
“For long, there has been absence of organised marketing for commodities, and it has impacted negatively on agricultural incomes and productivity. The fiscal incentives and investment promotion strategies (e.g. tariff realignments, tax holidays) enunciated under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda are pragmatic measures for improving the business environment for investments in agricultural value chains in the country.
“In particular, the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending Scheme is a significant boost for the agricultural financing and investment landscape in the country,” he said