Development Agencies are affirmative that unless present and future African leaders adopt pragmatic approach in the implementation of agricultural policies, the goal of achieving continental transformation will be elusive. The Development Agencies comprising the African Development Bank (AFDB), organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme UNDP, stated that the Africa’s Transformation Centres on viable Agricultural Sector.
The charge on African leader came on the heels of the continent’s modest annual economic growth of 3.2 percent in 2011, 4.8 percent in 2013, 5.3 percent in 2014, 6.1 percent in 2015 and a projected growth rate of 6.9 percent by the end of 2017.
According to the Development Agencies, Africa stands as the second most populated continent in the world with 24 percent of the world’s agricultural land; but accounts for only 9 percent of its production. The growth rate, the agencies noted, has been accompanied by sufficient poverty reduction, persistent unemployment and increased income inequalities, as well as deteriorating levels of health and education.
Equating Africa’s development to its ability to harness its agricultural resources for sustainable growth, the Agencies stressed the need for prudent and effective employment of the continent’s huge natural endowment in the quest for a sound economy and overall transformation.
The director OECD Development Centre, Mr. Marro Pezini remarked that growth is not enough and urged African countries to provide the right conditions for turning the abundant natural resources into jobs, and optimize resource revenue through moderate taxation. There is also need, he stated, to create the right conditions such as provision of infrastructure, education and larger and more competitive market for transformation to flourish.
The director, Macroeconomic Policy Division, Economic Commission for Africa ECA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr. Emmanuel Nnadozie opined that access to markets is fundamental to structural transformation while access to the markets of larger partners could open new opportunities.
On the primary sector, the development agencies stated that it required sound land management, balanced and effective tax systems and the right mechanisms and incentives to cause acceleration and diversification of resources and growth.
In Nigeria and most African countries, agricultural sector is acknowledged as the driver economic development but characterized by misplaced priorities and dependence on a single commodity as source or revenue earnings.
Prof. Ango Abdulahi, then adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Food Security lamented that 60 percent of Nigerians engaged in farming cannot produce enough food for local consumption whereas in the United States and Europe only 7-8 percent of the population engaged in agriculture make their countries self-sufficient in food.
Perhaps, in a bid to reverse the trend, President Muhammadu Buhari administration on May 15, 2016 launched the Green Alternative, an agriculture policy 2016 – 2020 designed to address all aspect of agricultural development in Nigeria including the revitalization of agricultural farm settlement of the First Republic, and provision of social amenities.
There is also an intervention scheme launched by Central Bank of Nigeria CBN designed to boost local production put at one trillion naira since 2015. The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele outlined at the interventions to include:
But the budget implementation has been the bane of development programmes in Nigeria. This prompted the 8th National Assembly to express concern that despite the enormous spending on intervention projects, there was no noticeable impact on the sectors that has benefited from the intervention funds.
On the other hand, the Nigeria Government says its commitment to harness the agricultural resources for sustainable development and on August 28, 2017 it emerged the 3 universities of Agriculture with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The universities are located at Akure, Markurdi, and Umudike. The contribution of the agricultural sector to the nation’s export earnings still leaves much to be desired. The report from the National Bureau of Statistics in the forth quarter of 2016 indicated that agriculture contributed only 5.58 percent of the nation’s export earnings despite the fact that the country is blessed with arable land good for agricultural production.
What must come to play is the critical role of each of the sub-regional economic entities in Africa in accelerating the transformation of the continent. But mustering political will have been the problem. For instance, after 40 years of existence, ECOWAS member states with a total population of 460 million are still grappling with the twin problem of linguistic barriers and divided loyalty to national/community interest in the implementation of crucial decisions affecting community. However, given the recent encouraging attention by many African states to the agricultural sector, the transformation of African will be a question of time.
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