Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to name his cabinet this week after the screening of nominees and with the growing importance of Africa looking towards agribusiness, Nigeria is looking to see how the new cabinet will emphasise agriculture.
“The focus of the new government really should be around ensuring that they reduce the barriers to adoption of yield enhancing technologies by small scale farmers,” said Kola Masha, CEO at Doreo Partners.
Masha explains that the issue in Nigeria is that there is low productivity at the farming level and until they have an incentive to yield more, there will be very little progress.
“For them to make an investment on their farm, there are certain barriers they need to be overcome,” he said.
For example they need access to credit and they need to have the knowledge and lastly they should minimise risk.
“I think the approach of government around agricultural financing has been to launch special programmes and these special programmes typically provide credit at below inflation which is not sustainable,” he said.
The country is looking towards strengthening the fish farming sector as a way to stimulate job creation.
“Fishing does have a key role to play, because the benefit that you have in a protein value chain is that by investing and developing that sector, it’s a very long value chain,” he said.
Masha explains how this has a chain reaction, not just the farmers who benefit but everyone who leads up to them, for instance the person who produces the feed.
“One of the major challenges is that fish feed is 40 per cent fish meal and today in Nigeria the reality is that we don’t have a fish meal industry because we don’t really have industrial fishing that feeds that type of industry,” he said.
“So it is a nonstarter until you can insure that you can domestically produce 40 per cent of your feed.”
Nigeria is going to follow the path of south-east Asia, according to Masha, places like Thailand where they have succeeded.
“It is going to be predominantly small scale farmers driving the growth – it can be done, efficiently and effectively” he said.
This is where investment comes in from the big players through imports of technology and such; however that is not as easy in Nigeria right now.
“That is a major challenge in Nigeria today”, Masha says, the government is demotivating growth by putting restrictions on the importation of necessary items that will help the industry get on its feet.
“Let’s allow importation of approved varieties that insure that we don’t have any bio-safety issues but then have a transition plan to backward integrate.”