Despite numerous risks, the agriculture sector is expected to reap bigger fruits this year with more investments implemented, making it one of the key drivers of economic growth.
The sector has received a major boost over the past two years, thanks to a strong focus by policymakers on food and jobs.
To collaborate this, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will rise by 2.1 per cent last year to 2.5 per cent by this year.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group also predicts that the nation’s real gross domestic product (GDP) will grow by 2.4 per cent this year as implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan gains pace.
One sector that will contribute to it is the expected surge in agriculture activities. Experts believe Nigeria has rich natural conditions to host a variety of valuable crops and agriculture will remain a critical sector for the economy.They anticipate agriculture would expand due to growth in Rice production and other agricultural activities.
For instance, analysts expect Nigeria to produce more tonnes of rice this year and output will exponentially rise in fruits, vegetables, cereals, cashew, cocoa as well as livestock; which are critical elements for domestic consumption and exports.
This would hinge, however on the government’s ability to maintain a thriving business environment, driving growth and facilitating an impressiveeconomic diversification.
Key investments in new processing facilities are expected to continue driving the sector’s expansion.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Director-General, Dr Muda Yusuf, noted: “The monetary value of agriculture output has been on the upward trajectory, rising 40 per cent quarter-on-quarter to N5.41 trillion between July and September from N3.86 trillion between April and June, compared with N3.60 trillion in the first quarter. “The CBN, like it did in 2019, will maintain status quo by not relenting in supporting the sector with much-needed funds in ensuring that the wide gap between local demand for food and supply is bridged.”
On the performance of the sector, the DG projected improved credit flow to agriculture on the back of proposed increase in deposit money banks’loans to deposit ratio to 70 per cent. Yusuf expressed the view that prolonging closure of the land borders would further add impetus to agricultural output this year.
The President, Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN), Dr Victor Iyama, said agriculture will remain one of the most important sectors for business and economic growth.
He however, added that value-added food manufacturing is also important to penetrating high potential markets, where a lack of infrastructure and inefficient logistics can create delays that cause a significant proportion of fresh produce to spoil.
He called for investment in logistics and grading centres, adding that initiatives of this kind would also help to reduce wasted produce, levels of which can be as high as 40 to 50 per cent due to the lack of supply chains linking the field to the consumer. For small growers, he said infrastructural support is critical because they lack the capacity to pack and grade their produce in line with market requirements.
According to him, improving production capacity will also allow them to create more opportunities to increase income for local farmers and meet the requirements of high-value export markets.
He said the establishment of clearer quality standards would help to drive exports to new markets.
Iyama said the association is trying to improve the value of the nation’s agro exports by applying safe and sustainable agricultural practices and improving production facilities.
The Country Manager, OCP Africa, Caleb Usoh, said supporting agriculture with focus on enhanced private sector investment and key value chains will ensure economic diversification and boost food security.
He said OCP Africa will support Nigeria with fertiliser plants.
He said sustainably increasing food production will be possible only with a balanced and rational use of fertiliser, saying this will ensure a decrease in imports of NPK fertiliser, which combine three macronutrients: Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Through the plants, he said OCP Africa has set ambitious goals to reach more farmers. In addition to training local farmers in advanced, modern agricultural techniques to rev-up yearly output, OCP Africa has initiated several other programmes that have massively upgraded the scales in terms of sustainable agriculture policy and food security.
To work with farmers to contribute to unlocking Africa’s vast agricultural potential, he stated that the company launched its ‘Agribooster Offer’ aimed at boosting food production in the country.
The ‘Agribooster Offer’s initiative for food crops provides farmers with support for every aspect of the agricultural value chain. Through this, OCP Africa connects farmers to financing and insurance, working with local extension agents to train them on proper fertiliser use, collaborating with other providers to ensure they have the right fertiliser and other input.
Some areas are going to emerge as a new hub for high-tech agriculture. In few areas of the Southwest, there are efforts to boost agri tourism development, growing high-tech agricultural products, helping it to attract many domestic and foreign investors.
Several high-tech agricultural projects have been granted investment decisions for implementation.
In conclusion, there’s no better time to plunge into the ‘Agric-boom’ than now!
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