Certain specialists in the field of agriculture have advocated for the proper allocation of Brazil’s substantial $1.2 billion loan with the aim of enhancing Nigeria’s agricultural modernization. On January 18, 2024, in Lagos, the professionals voiced their opinions through individual interviews. Nigeria’s agricultural sector is set to undergo a transformative makeover as the Development Bank of Brazil joins hands with the federal government, signing a monumental $1.2 billion memorandum of understanding (MOU) to initiate modernization efforts.
With a financial assistance, the loan aims to enhance mechanization in agriculture and establish contemporary agro-centers nationwide, by providing a credit facility. The allocation of funds in the agriculture sector must be effectively managed for optimal outcomes, urged Akin Alabi, a renowned expert in agricultural consulting. He emphasized the need for the government to ensure meticulous disbursement of these funds to maximize the desired impact. In regards to enhancing agricultural productivity, Mr. Alabi emphasized the perpetual need for additional funds, whether sourced domestically or from foreign developmental allies. Considering the recent infusion of a $1.2 billion loan from Brazil aimed at modernizing agriculture in Nigeria, it remains uncertain whether this substantial funding will be effectively managed.
Available funds have the potential to improve various aspects of agric.
Are the funds reaching the actual small-scale farmers who form the foundation of the industry? What method will be used to distribute this fund? Will it be in the form of loans or grants to be given to commercial or large-scale farmers? It is crucial to address these inquiries to prevent the funds from being exploited by so-called portfolio or political farmers, and to ensure that every aspect of the agriculture sector benefits from it. According to Mr. Alabi, the available funds have the potential to improve various aspects of agriculture, such as boosting production, refining processing techniques, enhancing extension services, implementing irrigation farming, constructing greenhouses, introducing value chain additions, and minimizing post-harvest losses.
The aim is to achieve a much-needed transformation in the Nigerian agriculture sector, and these are the specific areas where the funds can play a crucial role in ensuring the desired modernization, he stated. In the pursuit of agricultural advancement, Fadlullah Issa, a member of the National Agriculture Extension Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), emphasized the crucial need for the nation to transition from subsistence farming to a more contemporary and streamlined approach. According to Mr. Issa, the latest studies reveal that a significant proportion of Nigerian farmers (ranging from 80 to 90 percent) continue to rely on swords or manual garden tools for their agricultural practices.
It is imperative to incorporate modern agricultural techniques.
Mr. Issa pointed out that despite the assertions of having tractors accessible to local farmers, those residing in rural areas contradict this claim by stating that they merely caught a glimpse of a tractor. He emphasized that in order to propel Nigerian agriculture forward, machinery utilization is of utmost importance. He further commented, For the modernization process, it is imperative to incorporate modern agricultural techniques including the utilization of suitable recommended practices, conducting comprehensive soil tests, and considering the appropriate use of agrochemicals.
As the population continues to expand, the looming threat to food security becomes increasingly apparent. Therefore, in order to effectively capitalize on this loan, it is imperative to allocate it conscientiously and direct it towards the most suitable avenues. Furthermore, he emphasized the crucial significance of ensuring that the intended beneficiaries, the genuine farmers, are the ones benefiting from the funds instead of any other parties. According to Mr. Issa, the disbursement of these funds should strictly avoid benefiting any political farmers.
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Prior to this loan, the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) encountered a significant issue where a considerable portion of the funds ended up in the hands of unintended recipients, leading to widespread concerns about the failure to recuperate the funds. He remarked that for the allocation of funds, there is a requirement for a well-formulated policy framework. Additionally, the enhancement of extension services is crucial to facilitate the sector’s advancement. If education is neglected in the efforts to modernize the agriculture sector, then the focus on modernization becomes questionable. Accordingly, it is imperative to provide training to a larger number of extension agents who can actively drive this pursuit of modernization.