Development Partners, Private Sector Commit $1.7bn for Food Security

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James Emejo and Chukwuemeka Maduagwuna in Abuja

The private sector and development partners have so far committed $1.7billion for the development of agriculture in the country under the New Alliance and Grow Africa Partnerships.

The partnership was an initiative of G8 Summit at L’Aquila, Italy, which was formed to support Africa’s effort towards food and nutrition security.

Essentially, it is a partnerships agreement between the government, private sector and development partners on targeted actions needed to promote agriculture investment and consequently food and nutrition security in Nigeria.

Out of the $1.1billion expected to be invested by the private sector by 2016, a total of $1.4billion had already been provided, representing an achievement rate of 123per cent.

On the other hand, development partners who were expected to have provided a total of $420million in aid for agriculture by 2016 have actually made the sum 294 million available, representing a 70 percent achievement rate.

On the part of the government, which was also expected to fulfil its own part of the agreement by completing 26 specified tasks by June 2016, nine of such obligations were said to have been carried out, representing a 35 percent achievement rate.

Policy Analyst, ECOWAS Commission/Head, Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System – West Africa (ReSaKSS WA), Dr. Manson Nwafor said the purpose of the partnerships was to increase private investment and improve food security.

Giving an overview of New Alliance/Grow Africa Partnerships in Nigeria at a workshop on policy validation of annual progress report in Abuja, he said government made 27 specific commitments in 13 broad areas including seed and fertilizer, agriculture financing, agriculture insurance, nutrition, land titling, staple crops processing zones, commodity exchange, enterprise registration and power availability.

Development Partners had committed to predictable funding of $500 million over the 2013 – 2016 period while the private sector made commitments in the areas of agriculture investment $3.8 billion in the 2013 – 2023 period.

Among other things, the workshop sought to identify key challenges private investors face and make recommendations on the priority actions that the government and development partners need to undertake in addressing them.

It also sought to discuss if any amendments are needed to the contents of the New Alliance and Grow Africa agreements (including the commitments) in order to better promote agriculture investment and food security.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Shehu Ahmed said the federal government committed to 13 major policy actions in the areas of seed and fertilizer, Bank of Industry, agricultural insurance, and nutrition among others.

He explained that the federal government, private sector and development partners had written commitments on key actions to be embarked upon in order to improve agricultural investment and food and nutrition in line with the principles of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

Coordinator, Agric Business Group, Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere said the prevailing economic conditions necessitated the review of the New Alliance and Grow Africa initiative as well as the need to assess the impact of the scheme on Nigerians and the way forward.

He said: “I think it’s a very good time to bring forward because at the time the two concepts, Grow AFRICA and the New Alliance were put together, the economic situation in Nigeria was different from what it is today.
“The past 24 months have been extremely dramatic and the next twelve months are going to be even more dramatic in terms of how it is impacting on the lives of our people.

“So reviewing it today is a very good one to ask ourselves if we are on the right tract. It has however, achieved consciousness of the need to realise that Africa’s comparative advantage is in agriculture. Africa alone controls 64 percent of the available land in the world to grow food.”