While tens of millions of votes are being counted in the Nigeria’s presidential elections, one of the key issues that candidates focused on was revamping the country’s agriculture sector. Despite being the largest economy in Africa, the West African nation has struggled to fully develop its agriculture sector, with many farmers still using traditional methods and struggling to access markets.
To address this issue, several presidential candidates have made promises to revamp agriculture with the aim of increasing productivity, creating jobs, and reducing food insecurity.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is concluding his second term, has promised to continue his administration’s efforts to revamp agriculture, which he has described as a “key driver of our economy”.
Since taking office in 2015, Buhari has launched several initiatives aimed at boosting agriculture, including the Anchor Borrowers Programme, which provides loans to smallholder farmers, and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, which has reduced the cost of fertilizer for farmers.
In a recent speech, Buhari highlighted the progress that has been made under his administration, including the increase in rice production from 2.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2021. He also pledged to continue investing in irrigation infrastructure and other measures to improve productivity.
However, some critics argue that Buhari’s efforts have not gone far enough, and that more needs to be done to address issues such as access to finance, land tenure, and market access for smallholder farmers.
Another presidential candidate who has promised to revamp agriculture in Nigeria is Atiku Abubakar, a businessman and former vice president. Abubakar has put forward a comprehensive agriculture policy, which includes measures such as providing low-interest loans to farmers, improving infrastructure such as rural roads and storage facilities, and investing in research and development.
Abubakar has also pledged to introduce policies to encourage private sector investment in agriculture, including tax breaks and other incentives. “Agriculture has the potential to transform our economy and create millions of jobs,” he said in a recent speech. “But we need to create the right environment for private sector investment to thrive.”
Other candidates have also put forward their own proposals for revamping agriculture in Nigeria. Kingsley Moghalu, a former Central Bank deputy governor, has promised to increase government spending on agriculture and to introduce policies to encourage youth participation in the sector.
Meanwhile, Fela Durotoye, a motivational speaker and entrepreneur, has called for a “paradigm shift” in the way Nigeria approaches agriculture. He has proposed a plan to create “agriculture cities”, which would be designed to attract private investment and provide a supportive environment for farmers.
So what do experts make of these proposals? Dr Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank and a former minister of agriculture in Nigeria, believes that revamping agriculture is crucial for Nigeria’s future.
“Revamping agriculture is not a luxury, it’s an imperative,” he said in an interview with CNN. “We need to make agriculture the engine of growth for our economy, and we need to do that by focusing on smallholder farmers and creating a supportive environment for private investment.”
However, Adesina also warned that there are many challenges that need to be addressed, such as the need for improved infrastructure, access to finance, and better policies to support smallholder farmers.
As Nigeria’s presidential election concludes, it’s clear that agriculture was a key issue for voters. While the different candidates have put forward their own proposals for revamping agriculture, it remains to be seen which approach will be most effective in addressing the complex challenges facing the sector.