Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate and main challenger to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, is promising to make agriculture thrive better in Nigeria than recorded under the current government.
He plans to achieve this by increasing large-scale private sector investments, and a private sector led commodity exchange system. By 2025, Atiku hopes to have achieved an annual growth of 10 percent in the sector.
The Buhari government made agriculture one of the important components of the administration’s objectives, but Atiku in his campaign blueprint, which has been made public, is planning to trounce the incumbent’s attempts at making the sector viable.
“The overall focus shall be on attracting new investments into the non-oil sector, modernising the agricultural sector to make it attractive for large scale private investments,” read a portion of Atiku’s ‘Let’s Get Nigeria Working Again’ policy document for 2019.
The PDP presidential aspirant aims to develop agriculture into a modern, productive and competitive venture with high job-creating and poverty reduction capacity.
“We would increase agricultural output from the current level of N23.85 trillion to about N40 trillion by 2025. This would imply an annual growth in agricultural sector from 4.11 percent to 10 percent between 2019 and 2025,” said the former vice president.
Atiku, in his campaign’s policy document, also said his government (in the event of victory), will focus on revolutionising agriculture, encouraging development of an effective off-take system for producers and farmers to stimulate production and growth of the agricultural sector.
“Companies presently engaged in the processing of agricultural produce for export are beleaguered by high cost of production, absence of reliable off-take contracts, inadequate technical, operational and quality expertise as well as lack of access to adequate working capital. Part of addressing the foregoing will require the existence of a well-functioning commodities exchange and well-funded processing factories. We shall develop a thriving commodities trading ecosystem. This will not only aid the diversiﬁcation of the economy and foster real GDP growth, but will create jobs within the value chain of the ecosystem thereby engendering inclusive growth.”
Some of the major policy proposals for the agricultural sector include collaborating with states in the design and implementation of robust and sustainable land reforms to simplify and strengthen titling and land transfer processes with a view to encouraging commercial farming.
Atiku’s plan also proposes strengthening the markets for agricultural commodities through the establishment of private sector-led commodities exchanges around the major crop production regions of Nigeria. It also includes increasing incentives to attract private sector agribusinesses to set up processing plants in the staple crop processing zones across the country. Continue to improve agriculture sector’s access to ﬁnancial services, through NIRSAL by de-risking lending to the sector by commercial and development banks.
It also includes encouraging investment in agro-processing cluster by offering concessional ﬁnancing, tax breaks and seed funds for upgrades or construction of access roads, embedded power plants and water/waste management systems.
Atiku’s plans to retain some of the interventions of the incumbent administration such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
The policy document highlights Atiku’s plan to “strengthen and scale up the Anchor Growers Scheme in the agricultural sector.” It also highlights a plan to encourage farmers to form cooperatives that would enable them set and guarantee commodity prices amongst their members, with the purpose of alleviating the risk of low prices at harvest time whilst also helping them to remain competitive.
It also stated that following from the successes of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL-Co) in de-risking agriculture credit. Atiku’s administration aims to ensure that the scope of Infra-Credit – Infrastructure Credit Guarantee Company Limited, is broadened to complement the operation of a proposed Infrastructure Debt Fund (IDF). This will function by de-risking investments in infrastructure to build investor confidence in taking risk and investing capital.
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