News / Economy

Nigeria's Farming Reforms Still Face Hurdles

A farmer plows the field in Saulawa village, on the outskirts of Nigeria's north-central state of Kaduna in this May 2013 photo.
A farmer plows the field in Saulawa village, on the outskirts of Nigeria's north-central state of Kaduna in this May 2013 photo.
Reuters
— Nigeria is reforming its farming sector to bolster production and draw investment but companies this week said more needs to be done to tackle entrenched corruption, poor infrastructure and rogue government agencies.

Nigeria's annual economic summit focused on agriculture for the first time, in line with President Goodluck Jonathan's commitment to fixing Nigeria's biggest employer.

Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture Akinwunmi Adesina addresses the 19th Nigerian Economic Summit Group meeting in Abuja, Sept. 3, 2013.Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture Akinwunmi Adesina addresses the 19th Nigerian Economic Summit Group meeting in Abuja, Sept. 3, 2013.
x
Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture Akinwunmi Adesina addresses the 19th Nigerian Economic Summit Group meeting in Abuja, Sept. 3, 2013.
Nigeria's Minister of Agriculture Akinwunmi Adesina addresses the 19th Nigerian Economic Summit Group meeting in Abuja, Sept. 3, 2013.
Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina, who has been praised by donors and businesses for his efforts, was keen to stress the success of reforms began two years ago.

He said subsidies used to reduced the cost of fertilizer for farmers were not longer managed by corrupt politicians but instead were given directly to farmers.

He said food imports had fallen by 850 billion naira ($5.2 billion) and food production was up by 8 million tons, helping to create 2.2 million new jobs.

The government wants to add 20 million tons of domestic food production by 2020 and rice, corn, sorghum, palm oil and cocoa have already increased, Adesina said.

The world's second-largest importer of rice, Nigeria aims to become self-sufficient by 2015 after introducing a 100 percent tax on polished rice imports this year, likely to mostly affect countries like India, Thailand and Brazil.

Security sources and farmers have said one backlash has been a rise in smuggling of rice and sugar from neighboring countries and into ports.

Higher cassava output has been used to make flour, reducing wheat imports mostly from the United States by almost 9 percent, Adesina said, who noted bank lending to agriculture had risen to 25 billion naira this year from just 3.5 billion in 2012.

Duties on agricultural equipment have been scrapped and tax breaks given to companies willing to invest in both farming and industrial processes, as well.

The country's reforms have drawn new foreign investors such food giant Cargill, seed company Syngenta  and brewer SABMiller, while Dangote Sugar  and others are investing more.

However, many companies asked to speak at the summit gave a less rosy picture, saying state and local governments still extort unofficial payments, while officials at ports and customs either worked around government policies or outright ignored them.

Confusing laws on land, much of which is owned or claimed by government officials, also mean it is difficult to expand. That has left 60 percent of Nigeria's arable land fallow, farmers say.

Rhetoric vs. action

“We're still battling with the basics; visa processing times, port delays, access to credit, transport systems. Rhetoric is all we are getting. It's time to walk the walk,” said Alan Jack, managing director of Shonga Farms, a mainly poultry and milk farming group which supplies the Lagos branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken, owned by Yum! Brands.

Jack said imported chicken from Brazil cost 135 naira per kilo, while a chick in Nigeria cost 180 naira, making government plans to emulate its South American rival unrealistic.

“Ports would scare the life out of anyone. It's the worst thing about your system,” said Calvin Burgess, chief executive of Dominion Farms, a U.S.-owned firm looking to farm rice in Taraba state.

He said $10 million of agriculture equipment was delayed for almost a year because customs and other agencies sought bribes and noted Dominion had operated in Kenya for 10 years “without anything like these problems”.

The government says port reform is a key policy, but investors say progress is slow.

Industry players were also critical of Nigeria's dilapidated road network and troubled power supply noting it is often more profitable to ship produce to the U.K. rather than transport it from Lagos in the south to the biggest northern city, Kano.

“We don't benefit from any infrastructure put in place. We have to build our own roads and provide our own electricity,” said Gbenga Oyebode, chairman of palm oil firm Okomu Palm, said.

Africa's most populous country is privatizing much of its power sector, which should help improve electricity shortages that hurt the agriculture sector.

Nigeria's reforms are needed to reduce reliance on a struggling oil sector and cut a $11 billion food import bill.

“We see efforts but do we know these policies will be long term?” said Paul Gbededo, chief executive of FlourMills of Nigeria, one of the country's largest agriculture firms.

“Every level of government must be committed.”

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tayo from: goodgod12
September 07, 2013 6:39 PM
Like this word “Every level of government must be committed.”
God will also help


<a href="http://www.hynaija.com/"></a>

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.