Nigeria has, in recent times, witnessed a spike in agricultural interest. This is understandable, given the fact that receding economic numbers have brought home jolting realities about the “bubble nature” of our fossil fuel reliant economy.
Typically, the foregoing has triggered a bandwagon effect. Everyone wants to talk agric these days – it’s an all comers affair – Conferences, Exhibitions, Seminars and what have you. While this is not a bad state of affairs in itself, the awareness created therefrom could augur negatively for the sector, if gainsayers are allowed to dictate the narrative. Already, there are throngs of Seminars, Conferences and Summits mostly aimed at ‘showcasing’ the country’s agricultural potentials. But, the conversation has moved way beyond that point. It is common knowledge that Nigeria is endowed with potentials, what is required and indeed missing, is the disciplined and painstaking resolve to chart a deliberate course towards actualizing those potentials. Hence the need for a new convocation paradigm.
The Feed Nigeria Summit (FNS2017) heralds the new paradigm – homegrown solution to typically localized developmental challenges.
The gravamen of the FNS is that Nigeria needs to proffer solutions to her food import dependence reality by immediately triggering an increase in domestic agricultural productivity. In this regard, AgroNigeria, the Organizers of the Summit have identified a viable vehicle – subsumed in the current economic reality – with capacity to deliver up monumental productivity advantages to the sector, if well managed. Thus, the Home-Grown School Feeding Program of the Federal Government is being promoted to the agricultural private sector as a viable medium for sustainably increasing local farmer output and thereby triggering an agricultural revolution. The caveat however, is that this can only happen with the active support of the private sector.
Given the “homegrown impetus” of the HGSFP, it stands to reason that a whopping budget of #300billion (three hundred billion Naira) as earmarked to be spent over a period of 30months by the government, promises local agricultural producers a guaranteed market for their various agro-outputs. Whether it be Cocoa from the south west, oilpalm, plantain and cassava from the South East and South South, or indeed the maize, soy, millet, rice and tomato occasioning in the North, there is room for quantum boosting of Nigeria’s agricultural productivity and triggering a wellspring of value for her recession plagued economy.
However it is pertinent that we re-emphasize that this can only be achieved via a private sector driven implementation framework which allows for innovative approaches that will deliver up probity, accountability and profitability – anything else will result in a monumental waste of scarce resources.
Accordingly, FNS -2017 will feature a Special Policy Session on the HGSFP providing a landmark opportunity for those charged with the implementation of the Program, to engage key Private Sector players in the Nigerian agricultural space regarding the workings of the Program and the possibilities of its sustainable implementation beyond the initial 30 month cycle.
The theme of FNS -2017 is apt: “Feed Nigeria; To Feed Africa”, and seeks to draw attention to the strategic positioning of Nigeria in the larger continental food security matrix. It draws inspiration from the Feed Africa Agenda – one of the five principal policy thrusts of the African Development Bank, as championed by its current helmsman, Nigeria’s Dr Akinwumi Adesina. AgroNigeria, in conjunction with its collaborators, strongly believes that Nigeria should be at the forefront of this laudable continental initiative.
Indeed, the current government’s drive towards economic diversification can only succeed if Agriculture is handed a vital position in the scheme of things. The results being applauded currently are a tip of the iceberg, agriculture holds transcendental benefits for Nigeria, if the stakeholders can give it more serious attention. There is no more room for mere talk, it is now time to act in concrete terms. The development partner community, a set of silent achievers, will be provided a demonstration hub to showcase scalable outcomes from their interventions, which the agric public and private sector can leverage.
To this end, FNS-2017 will be a potpourri of the crème of the Nigerian Agriculture ecosystem, a melting pot of policy and strategic discussions between government, private sector, development community as well as the research community for the progress of the sector. The summit seeks to address key national agricultural productivity issues like finance, market access, research, infrastructure, mechanisation, and ICT, while ensuring a mainstreaming of gender and other related issues. The role of legislation in the sector will also be a critical area of engagement.
The FNS is scheduled to hold on the 6th and 7th of April, 2017 at the Grande ballroom, Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos and is being convened with the support of the African Development Bank Group and the Songhai Center for Agricultural Excellence, Porto Novo.