Agriculture Development and Food Security: A Clarion Call To Action By Jaye Gaskia
The year 2015 holds multiple significance for us in our quest for national liberation as a country [from the restrictive nature of a global economic architecture that ensnares and conduce to dependence]; and social emancipation as a people, exploited, suppressed, and impoverished as subordinate classes by the constraining policies of a treasury looting ruling class.
2015 was the year chosen in 2000 at the millennium conference of the UN for a set of 8 target goals to have been met by governments across the world. As it is now clear our country is not likely going to meet any of these Millennium Development Goals [MDGs]. And because the UN has just congratulated nature for meeting half of the twin objectives of ‘halving extreme poverty and hunger’ embedded in MDG 1; this write up is focused on that goal, and cast doubts on the veracity of even this half achievement. And we say half achievement because; poverty [both relative and extreme] has actually grown. And the real question to ask is how extreme poverty could be growing while extreme hunger is reducing? What manner of voodoo analysis can explain this anomaly?
The second reason why 2015 is significant is because again in 2003, just as it did in 2000 with respect to the MDGs, Nigeria again committed at the AU convention in Maputo to a Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program [CAADP], and a Maputo Declaration. African governments recognizing the centrality of agriculture to their economies, and understanding the opportunity that this presents for the kind of economic development that can lift Africa out of poverty, provide jobs, and safe guard food security; decided on far reaching policy framework to transform agriculture. The initial target was 2008, but this was rescheduled to 2015 in 2010, because no single country had achieved the core objectives of CAADP and the Maputo Declaration. Two years to 2015, again, our country is not in any way close to achieving these agriculture related commitments it made.
The third reason for the significance of the year 2015 in our collective quest is because it is the year of another general election. A general election that should present an opportunity for us as a people to review the mandate we have given to these self centered leaders at all levels of governance.
What is very clear is that we have a ruling class that is not interested in, and has proven itself incapable through several decades of fulfilling any commitments to its citizens, regardless of whether these commitments are made at home or abroad, or whether they are national or international commitments. This thieving treasury looting ruling class is interested only in feathering its own nest as it pillages our collective wealth, and impoverishes a majority of our citizens.
The year 2015 therefore presents an opportunity for us as active citizens to step into the political arena, occupy the historical stage, take our destiny into our hands, and take the steps that will enable us set the post 2015 agenda on all fronts, nationally, continentally, and globally.
Now let us illustrate the tragic failure and congenital inability of our ruling elites with the case in the Agriculture sector.
Agriculture continues to occupy a significant and pre eminent position in the country’s economy, continuing to be the major/dominant contributor to GDP and GDP growth in Nigeria.
According to the Quarter 1 2013 GDP Report [Q1 2013 GDPR] of the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics [NBS], overall GDP grew by 6.56% in Q1 2013, as against 6.34% in Q1 2012, and 6.99% in Q4 2012 [representing a decline or economic contraction of 0.43%].
Agriculture’s contribution to GDP stood at 33.69% in Q1 2013, compared with 34.47% in Q1 2012, representing a decline over one year of 0.78%; on the other hand, Agriculture’s growth rate as a sector also witnessed a decline between 2012 and 2013; growing at 4.14% in Q1 2013 compared with a growth rate of 4.37% in Q1 2012, a decline or contraction of 0.23% over the period.
To put this in perspective, the corresponding figures for the Oil & Manufacturing Sectors is as follows; with the Oil sector contributing 14.75% to GDP in Q1 2013 and the Manufacturing sector contributing 1.14%.
Again according to the same report, 80% of domestic food production came from household production by small scale farmers.
Additionally Agriculture continues to employ more than 65% of the country’s workforce, with 85% of rural women being engaged in agricultural livelihood activities.
Furthermore with a score of 15.7 the 2012 Global Hunger Index [GHI] ranked Nigeria 40 out of 79 countries with a score higher than 5. 129 countries were evaluated, and countries with a score lower than 5 are not ranked.
The GHI is calculated by taking the average score of three key indicators, including (1) the proportion of undernourished in the population [PUN] in percentages; (2) Proportion of Under five children who are under weight [CUW] in percentages; and (3) proportion of children under five dying/child mortality [CM] also in percentages.
Nigeria’s figures for each of the categories are: PUN – 6%; CUW – 26.7%; and CM – 14.3%. This 14.3% child mortality rate is the second highest in the world, after India. According to WHO, 80% of world’s child mortality is accounted for by only 25 countries; with just five of these 25 countries [India, Nigeria, DRC, Pakistan, and China in that order] accounting for half of these.
The GHI scores are categorised thus; 30 and above – extremely alarming; 20 – 29.9 – Alarming; 10 – 10.9 – Serious; 5 – 9.9 – Moderate; and 0 – 4.9 – Low.
Compounding and underlying this situation is the fact that according to the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Nigeria spends approximately N1.3tn on food importation alone annually. Putting this in context, this figure is equivalent to the size of the Capital vote in the annual Federal Budget, and is also equal to the total volume of transactions on the Nigeria Stock Exchange for 2012.
This situation of serious hunger needs to be placed against the background of the fact that according to NBS report for 2012 70% of the population lives in poverty that is over 112 million Nigerians.
Given this context, one would expect that Federal Government’s investment in agriculture will be robust, focused, and strategic in other to reverse this trend, particularly since the country is signatory to the Maputo Declaration and the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program [CAADP] of the AU of 2003.
The declaration obliged African governments to allocate a minimum of 10% of their annual budgets to Agriculture, with the aim of achieving a minimum annual 6% agriculture productivity growth rate. This level of investment and productivity growth was determined by the AU as the minimum level required transforming agriculture and through it engendering national economic growth and development in such a scale as to end hunger and drastically reduce poverty while eliminating extreme poverty on the continent.
These targets were supposed to have been met by 2008; however given the abysmal failure of a majority of countries to meet the target, it was renewed in 2010, with a view to it being met by 2015.
However since the declaration was made in 2003, Nigeria has met the target only once in 2009 [12%], while also only once achieving a more than 5% allocation in the federal budget to agriculture in 2007. The figures for 2010 to 2013 have been particularly disheartening, being consistently less than 4%, and in 2012 and 2013 just hovering around 1.6% of federal budget. If figures from the 36 state governments are including, this rates will be even lower.
Thus in 2013, 2 years to 2015 threshold, public investment in agriculture remained 1.6% of Federal budget [with only 54% of this being the capital vote component of the agriculture budget]; while agriculture productivity growth rate is a mere 4.14%.
Yet if the goals of the Vision 20.2020 are to be met, GDP needs to be growing at over 8% annually, driven by a minimum annual agriculture growth rate of 10%.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE? OUR DEMANDS:
To redress this situation both the quantity and quality of public investment in agriculture needs to be increased to meet the minimum 10% of national public investment target of the Maputo Declaration and CAADP.
With respect to truly achieving these targets in an effective manner, that is in a manner to make significant difference in food security and food sovereignty, then the national public investment must be a combined one, including both the state and federal governments, given that agriculture is on the concurrent list of the constitution. This means that both the federal and state governments must meet this minimum requirement in their budgeting.
The quality of this combined public investment must be significantly enhanced and improved. This can be achieved by ensuring that public and private investment in agriculture is based on the following criteria: an informed gender and poverty analysis and proportionate targeting.
Public investment in agriculture and by extension private sector investment must target small scale farmers and women in agriculture; while being focused on ensuring accessible support with respect to inputs, funds, insurance cover, appropriate technology, research, logistics support, roads, storage facilities, processing facilities; climate change adaptation; and markets. It should be based on the value chain approach, and link producers to end users.
An adaptation of a presentation made at a Post 2015 strategy session of CSOs in Abuja on July 3rd,2013.
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