NIGERIA – The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will partner with the Federal  Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to promote the special agro-industrial processing zones targeted at increasing food production capacity and promoting local, regional and international trade.

The multilateral financial institution for Africa revealed this during the 2019 dialogue on farming held in  Ilorin, Kwara State.

The dialogue was organised by Agro Nigeria farmers with the theme ‘Eliminating the economic impediments to prosperous commodity agribusiness’ and was aimed at providing long term solutions to the challenges facing the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

AfDB also noted that women and youths are fundamental to the agriculture ecosystem and they needed to be engaged actively in Agribusinesses.

With regard to this, AfDB noted that, technologies/mechanisations and other necessary incentives that would bolster youths’ engagements should be rapidly activated.

It added that the youths should be made to see the potential in agriculture, making them to embrace it at both national and sub-national levels.

AfDB commended the Federal Government for taking a decisive step to close the country’s borders but advised that the people should be culturally- reoriented to support this move and curtail the prodigal culture of consuming only imported goods.

It observed that the problem facing the Nigeria agricultural sector was poor implementation of policies adding “if policies are well implemented by the government in the agricultural sphere, we will move progressively, and the future of our economy will be bright.”

AfDB said, “The government should create proactive policies at the grass roots level that will benefit farmers in order to create jobs for the teeming Nigerian populace adding “research, policy and practice must converge to deliver a value added agriculture where there will be increase in employment and a stable job creation for the youths in the country.”

It also stressed the need for the introduction of structural marketing and contract farmers to enable farmers know “who buys from them and at what price, quantity and quality they are buying.”

Before the oil boom of 1980s, Nigeria used to be a leading exporter of agricultural items in Africa and the sector used to account for about 48% of the country’s GDP.

The significant wealth associated with Oil made the government to focus more on oil exploration at the expense of agriculture.

Nigeria’s neglected agricultural sector started to perform poorly and the results could be seen in its contribution to the country’s GDP which dropped from 45% to a about 22 percent.

Dwindling revenues from oil have however forced the government to rethink its strategies and to start to focus on agriculture as one of the way to diversify its economy and sustain its revenues.