Agricultural policies in Nigeria over the years have metamorphosed according to the era or government in place at each time. The Nigerian agricultural sector has witnessed a boom in the past which made it enviable until the advent of crude oil when all seems to go downstream.
Nevertheless, the sector is still capable of resuscitating the economy if properly attended to.
Agricultural policies started from the colonial era before 1960 and the post-colonial era in 1963. Depending on the state of the country’s development, there is a policy in place to cater to the agricultural needs and activities. From surplus extraction to export policies, there is always a policy in place.
How often these policies are put into practice is however a different ball game likewise the number of farmers familiar with them is very few. It is important to familiarize yourself with these policies in other to make the best out of it and not be cheated as well. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
The western region was a great producer and exporter of cocoa, the north was known for groundnuts and the southeastern region for their unique palm oil. This was Nigeria before the discovery of crude oil. Now, crude oil is failing us and it’s high time we move back into agriculture.
This has made the sector relax on its policies and importation of processed food items and condiments are the order of the day. From the importation of rice to refined cocoa powder and others, the agricultural policies need to be revamped and put into practice.
Agricultural Policies In Nigeria
The Nigerian Research Institute Acts
This policy was aimed at promoting research in agricultural sector. It began operational in 1964 and birthed many transformational advancement in the sector. It included the establishment of farm settlements, farmers’ cooperative and extension services.
Foremost research institutes of the decade include Agricultural Extension and Research Liason Service (AERLS) established in 1963 at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) established in 1967 at Ibadan; International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA).
The decade saw many foreign exchange as they were based on the structures laid down by the British Colonial rule. Innovations such as the groundnut pyramid in the north, the cocoa plantations of the southwest, and the palm oil of the southeast among others.
However, at the end of the decade, things went differently as it became obvious the Nigerian government did not have the capacity to continue the legacy. The British used an export driven system for their own interest and the institutions started malfunctioning. Another challenge that led to the failure was the Nigerian Civil War of 1967.
National Accelerated Food Production Project (NAFPP)
The change in government witnessed another agricultural policies, decrees and acts. The General Yakubu Gowon regime birthed an improvement to the Research acts through the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria Decree (1971) which was targeted at the functioning of the research institutes and production of major staple and the Integrated Agricultural Development Projects to enhance the adoption of new technology.
The Nigerian Agriculture and Cooperative Bank was established in 1973 with the aim of providing credit facilities to farmers and the Specialized Marketing Boards to fix and regulate prices of commodities.
The National Grains and Roots Cultivation Programme of 1972 was focused on how to bring about significant increase in the production of food crops such as maize, cassava, wheat and rice. The programme started in the northern region and extended to Anambra, Ondo, Imo, Benue, Plateau, Kano, Oyo and Ogun.
The major reason was that these food items were major staple and Nigeria should be self-sufficient in their production.it was achieved through the provision of fertilizers, good processing and storage facilities as well as marketing outlets.
Operation Feed The Nation
Under the regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo, this agricultural policy was launched in order to bring an increase in food production through active involvement and participation of citizens to be able to fend for themselves. The programme was well publicized, organized and fully supported by the government at the time.
Government provided inputs and subsidies to further encourage people’s involvement and believe in the programme. The farming activities were done on all available piece of land as no land should be found fallow irrespective of the suitability of the land. Preference was given to government establishments over the peasant farmers.
A downside to the OFN was the incidence of Newcastle disease and other poultry diseases due to lack of quarantine and necessary vaccines. The programme was replaced by the Green Revolution of Sheu Shagari.
During the Obasanjo regime, another policy was established, the River Basin Development Authorities with special focus on developing and monitoring the nations’ land and water resources. Rural banking schemes was also improved to allow farmers and rural dwellers develop banking skills.
The Green Revolution Programme
April 1980 birthed another agricultural policy by the Sheu Shagari led administration targeted at also increasing food production and food security. It also aim at boosting livestock production and fish to meet the nation’s demand and export.
The government ensured the programme’s success by providing improved seedlings, irrigation system, credit facilities and favourable pricing policy. Instrument used include food production plan, review of existing agriculture credit schemes, special commodity programmes and increased resource allocation.
Due to bureaucracy and delay in execution, the programme was unable to achieve the goal of increased food production. There was no monitoring and project evaluation funds were spent.
Agricultural Development Projects (ADP)
Established in 1974 as Integrated Agricultural Development Projects (IADP) in the northern region as pilot schemes and with support from World Bank. The aim is to increase the provision of infrastructural facilities in the rural areas for the comfort of farmers and to reduce rural-urban migration. The infrastructures include water supply, schools, health facilities, roads etc.
The ADP is semi-autonomous and emphasis is on the small farmer as it adopts integrated rural development strategy in its operations. Nigeria has continued to witness many of these programmes since the success recorded in the Gombe and Gusau projects. It was replicated in 1989 to 19 states of the federation and it included extension services, and technical input support.
Till date, the ADP has grown into the major agricultural development programme in many states of the federation. However, it is not without its own hitches. Some of these hitches include dwindling funding policies, intricacy of technical transfer, and labour mobility among others.
National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA)
In 1992, there came the need to review the Land Use Decree and Act of 1978 and 1979 respectively. It aims at giving strategic public support for land development, promote profitable use of the nation’s natural resources and boost employment opportunities. It also help to achieve food security through self-reliance and sufficiency.
Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI)
Established under the General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime in 1986, it is a local way of achieving the development of the sector in ways closer to home. The programme was developed to improve the quality of life in areas which include health, education, industrialization etc. The rural communities were made accessible through good road network and provision of other basic amenities.
DFRRI however had issues of mismanaged funds and lack of proper focus. The scheme did not achieve its major aim and has been criticized in the past for these.
In a bit to outdo previous regime or dispensation, there is no continuity and the cycle begins all over again. We keep enriching greedy individuals at the helm of affairs and corruption sinks deeper in the agricultural sector. Political unwillingness has always been an impedance to agricultural development in Nigeria.
Many of these agricultural policies are enough to solve the recurring issues in the sector if there is genuine concern to bridge the gap and improve the sector. The dictates of the policies should be fully implemented.
The government and her officials should ensure that the funds allocated to farmers reach them, agricultural inputs distributed accordingly and proper monitoring done to drive home the aims and objectives of these agricultural policies.
Which of these agricultural policies did you experience or would like to be brought back? Let’s hear your view in the comments section.