The Nigerian agricultural sector needs to be reviewed. In this interview with SALIHU OYIBO, the founder of Optimal Akeshinjo Farms, an indigenous farming business, Azeez Oluwanifemi Durodola, speaks at length about the need for federal and state governments to prioritize agriculture as a sustainable way to rejuvenate the country. national economy.
You are the team leader of the Agricultural Transformation Support Program, phase 1 (ATASP-1). What were the challenges your team faced and how did you overcome them?
The concept of value chain is interpreted in various ways. Some associate it with the processes or activities by which a business adds value to an item, including production, marketing, and the provision of aftermarket services. For others, it means the whole series of activities that create value at every step. The agricultural value chain includes all activities from field to fork and encompasses the stages from primary production, processing, storage, transport and marketing / export to the consumption of commodities. Processing zones are specially demarcated areas of contiguous land in areas of high agricultural potential where the provision of well-developed physical infrastructure such as access roads, electricity and water is required for activities. production, processing and marketing led by the private sector for strategic products such as rice, sorghum, cassava, horticulture, cotton, cocoa, palm oil, livestock and fisheries . Nigeria is a geographically large country with a complex administrative environment. The multisectoral program required a team of seasoned experts, including consultants, to harness all perspectives. Several studies were carried out in relevant areas such as processing area infrastructure surveys and value chain assessments for priority products to guide the bank‘s design approach for ATASP-1. The bank team of experts from OSAN, OPSM, OITC, OSHD and ORPF had to think outside the box and figure out how to deliver an investment document even when the master plan for the treatment areas had not been completed. fully developed.
What are the special features of ATASP-1 that would enable it to help Nigeria transform its agricultural sector into a profitable business?
ATASP-1 pays equal attention to constraints along the value chain in certain staple processing areas. The activities outlined in the new outreach program would focus on building human capacity in the agro-industry and facilitate the formation / development of more efficient production clusters aimed at establishing a reliable supply of rice, cassava and sorghum for farmers. industries.
The main impacts of ATASP-1 are additional income for an increased number of producers and entrepreneurs in the sector by creating around 120,000 jobs along the value chain of priority products and 20 million tonnes additional metrics of key food items added to the national food supply. per year.
Reports from bank-funded projects in Nigeria indicate that while farmers have made significant gains by adopting improved crop varieties and farming practices, productivity is still well below full potential along food value chains. basic products. How can this problem be solved?
ATASP-1 has given priority to the integration of women and especially young people in the markets. Targeted value addition support through processing, better nutritional products and market linkages to improve profits and incomes are essential for increased productivity along the continuum from subsistence farming to agriculture commercial.
Transport and storage issues have been identified as major obstacles to agriculture and agribusiness in Nigeria. How will this project help solve these problems?
One of the main constraints that ATASP-1 intends to overcome are the high and common post-harvest losses suffered by producers, processors and traders of paddy and processed rice; cassava tubers and starch, sorghum ears and flour due to poor infrastructure. ATASP-1 would rehabilitate a total of 1,330 km of feeder and access roads to link these agribusiness centers to community markets and major highways. In addition to the 22 storage silos and warehouses already installed by the private sector and the government in the processing areas, three additional warehouses would be built to increase the storage capacities for the expected increase in production and processing in the processing areas. transformation concerned.
With women making up about 70 percent of the agricultural sector’s production force, ATASP-1 will have a positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of women and their families. How will this objective be achieved in practice?
The program would secure a competitive national food supply and increase the income levels of farmers, processors and traders, about 70% of whom are women. In addition, ATASP-1 would create 120,000 jobs along commodity value chains and 60% of these would be women; ensure access to credit and other resources for women, facilitate the acquisition of tested processing equipment among groups of women processors and provide capacity building in agribusiness and entrepreneurship to women in the program. For inclusiveness, the program should ensure access to credit and other resources for women, facilitate the acquisition of tested processing equipment among groups of women processors, and provide capacity building for women. The sensitization program has set aside approximately UA 4.22 million for these women-related activities.
The project aims to improve crop varieties that might require the introduction of genetically modified crops, which has sparked much debate in African agriculture. Do banks have a policy on GMOs? How would it be applicable in this case?
The development of advanced biotechnological techniques to move genetic material within or between species to produce genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been associated with increased agricultural productivity. Traits conferred include insect resistance, herbicide tolerance, drought tolerance, salt tolerance, and nitrogen fixation in legumes. Proponents of genetic biotechnology argue that it would improve food security, increase production on marginal lands, and limit the use of irrigation and pesticides. The Bank does not have a policy on the use of biotechnology but seeks to develop a position after full consultation with stakeholders. To this end, the bank commissioned the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to conduct a study on agricultural biotechnology in Africa in order to provide adequate scientific information to help it develop its position on the subject. A draft report was reviewed in August 2013. There are no plans to promote GMOs through ATASP-1; however, the outreach program would use biotechnology to ensure access of Nigerian smallholder farmers to improved germplasm of high yielding, good organoleptic quality and resistant / tolerant to pests and diseases.
Do you think the agricultural industry has got the necessary support from the Nigerian government?
While I believe that much more can be done, I believe that the Nigerian government has, over time, shown its commitment to wean us from dependence on oil and move towards agriculture and encourage agriculture in order to develop. ” ensure food security and self-sufficiency. A typical example is the agricultural promotion policy of this administration. This was implemented to provide a legislative and agricultural framework, macroeconomic policies, security, infrastructure and institutional mechanisms to enable farmers to access essential inputs, finance, information, agricultural services. and markets. The agricultural sector is currently the largest employer of labor in the country. We have risen to the top of rice and corn production. And agriculture contributes more than 20% of the GDP. I agree that there is still so much we can do, but these wins so far are spectacular.
Besides food security and food self-sufficiency, what are the prospects for the export of Nigerian agricultural products?
This is an interesting question. And it is precisely because the foreign market is the one that we intend to explore and conquer. In this regard, there is still a lot to be desired.
Some of the issues we are currently facing include the sustainability of supplies after the initial market agreement is reached, port clearance issues, corruption of government officials involved in both customs clearance and shipment of shipments, and the lack of transparency on the part of certain agencies involved in export promotion. .
A recent report revealed that foreign cargo airlines prefer to leave empty due to extortion and multiple illegal charges, how true is this claim?
As if that weren’t enough, as we move more locally we are faced with a lack of warehouses and other forms of storage facilities as well as very poor feeder roads and high transportation costs which resulting. We are one of the few countries in the world to experience huge post-harvest losses of up to 80%. By the time you combine all of these factors, you can see some of the challenges faced in the export market. And this is the one that I hope would be fixed. In addition, for the past few years in a row, we have been one of the lowest in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings.
The agricultural value chain includes all activities from field to fork and encompasses the stages from primary production, processing, storage, transport and marketing / export to the consumption of commodities.
What is the agricultural value chain?
What opportunities do you see for increased interest in subsidies and value chain investments in agriculture, as we see in the tech and fintech space?
Much of the world as we know it now leans towards technology. You must constantly ask yourself how the introduction of technology can help you be more efficient in your operations.