What can the government do in times of weak growth and limited fiscal resources? I think it is high time for our government to come out with policies to revamp the economy and reduce poverty. Policies that can fast-track infrastructure investment, enhance flexibility in markets, and promote competition in the sector that would ignite investment. However, policy priorities should include reforms to improve the quality of institutions, infrastructure, skills and adoption of new technology.
In Nigeria, land reform is a challenge and incentives to encourage private sector investment are not there. Generally, the states government had roles to play in identifying challenges and proffering solutions to drive development in the zone. Each region has a major role to play in delivering food security, which involves offering incentives, among other forms of support. A vibrant, sustainable and resilient regional agriculture sector is vital for the nation’s economic future.
Removing the hurdles preventing farmers from accessing finance is one step that would help the sector to achieve competitiveness, potential and sustained economic progress. The agricultural loans for small-scale farmers seeking to grow their businesses are still regarded as high risk by banks.
The state government must help in strengthen production system and facilitate access to markets for some farm produce among small and medium scale commercial farmers. For instance, in order to complement the Federal Government’s policy on rice production, the state government should also try providing support for wheat and rice producers. Part of what is expected from the state government is to coordinate and facilitate the seed producers, farmers, warehousing facilities and marketers.
The state government must also work towards increasing agricultural productivity and reducing unemployment. They must be ready to boost crop production and equip farmers with modern facilities to ensure sufficiency.
Agriculture should be seen as a serious business in any nation. Nigerians really need to get involved in agriculture as it remains the roadmap to viable and sustainable development in Africa. If sustainable and integrated agriculture is embraced in Nigeria, it can become a catalyst that can turn Nigeria into zone for mass construction.
Our government needs to ensure that all enabling policies are put in place to help the farmers do basic operations such as access to land, inputs and the likes. There are so many intervention programmes, but it is discovered that farmers are unaware of them, however, one of the roles of the ministry is to ensure that there is continuing dialogue so that farmers will be able to know where they can get inputs, financing and most importantly, engage the off-takers.
The role of the ministry and the state is to continue to bridge the gap between the producers and off-takers to ensure that the value chain is not broken and ensure that the private sector sees the opportunities in the programme.