By Salisu Na’inna Dambatt: One of the many legacies of the Muhammadu Buhari administration on which the significant changes in the agricultural sector are hinged, is the establishment of the National Agricultural Development Fund (NADF).
The President signed the Act establishing the Fund in October 2022. Given its potential to enhance our national food security, one suggests that the Fund should come to life without any delay.
The NADF establishment Act has nine functions all of which are aimed at giving critical financial support that will facilitate rapid and sustainable growth in various aspects of the Nigerian agricultural sector for the benefit of all citizens.
One of the functions of the Fund listed at section 8 in Part II of the Act is the provision of money “to support agricultural development in Nigeria taking into consideration the need for food production and food security in Nigeria, in all its ramifications, including crop production. livestock, fisheries, poultry and agro-forestry.”
The Fund is expected to “provide finance for the implementation of agricultural policies and strengthen agricultural institutions within the framework of national priorities and strategies.” And significantly, it should “provide funds for on-lending to farmers and corporate bodies through financial institutions including microfinance banks, cooperative societies, organisations, farmer groups and institutions on appropriate soft terms.”
If all the functions were implemented patriotically and with a practical desire to achieve the purposes of the Fund, there will surely be a boost in agricultural activities which will raise productivity and ultimately deepen food security for over 200 million Nigerians.
It is hoped that one of the benefits of the NADF will be taking the financing for agriculture off the budget cycle of January to December. It leads to releasing money to every Ministry of Agriculture in the country long after the wet season has ended. Funding for dry season farming is similarly late. This anormally should be discarded.
If used judiciously and in the way it was conceived and envisaged in the Act, the NADF will surely have visible impact on the Nigerian agricultural sector in the same way the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) contributes infrastructure and extends other supports to the tertiary segment of the public education sector in Nigeria.
It is important to note that the establishment of NADF is just one of the dozens of initiatives of the Buhari-led administration to strengthen the agricultural sector which contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of NIgeria surpassed those of the Oil and Gas, Manufacturing and the Entertainment sectors combined.
For instance, the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative has ended our costly national habit of importing fertilisers. It has led us to self-sufficiency in the commodity. Nigeria now has a capacity to produce seven million tons of fertilisers. This was achieved by reactivating moribund fertiliser blending plants and the establishment of new ones. From net importer of fertilisers, Nigeria has become an exporter of top grade urea fertiliser to the United States of America, India, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. The fertiliser exports will net in USD 5 billion or one trillion Naira yearly, while saving our country’s foreign reserves.
Just like other serious countries, Nigeria is set to benefit from the Hand-in-Hand Initiative of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The focus of the initiative is on strengthening Food and Nutrition Security, managing Natural Resources sustainably, reducing Disaster Risk effectively as well as achieving Economic Diversification speedily.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammed Mahmoud Abubakar said the priority commodities for intervention in selected States under the Hand-in-Hand initiative were Rice, Sorghum, Soybean, Maize, Fish, Tomato, Cassava and Dairy.
The revival of the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) with the objective of achieving food and fiber security in Nigeria is one more of the efforts made by the Buhari administration to boost the agriculture industry.
NALDA’s main activities include the establishment of Integrated Farm Estates in the country where youths are engaged in various aspects of commercial agriculture: crop production, poltry and livestock keeping, fish farming and growing different vegetables.
The intensified domestic rice production initiative of the administration has positively touched nearly every rice-eater in almost every household in the country. The Anchor-Borrowers Programme for rice of the Central Bank of Nigeria with expert support from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has restored our worthy culture of eating the food we grow at home. Nigerians now rarely eat smuggled expired foreign rice. Families prefer and eat fresh Nigerian rice which is literally grown and processed to high standard in their neighbourhoods.
There are strong expectations among Nigerians that if the resources of NADF are applied effectively, there will be positive effects on the development of the agriculture sector, perhaps similar to the impact made by the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) in the provision of infrastructure and facilitation for other development activities to improve the wellbeing of Nigerians.
Salisu Na’inna is a retired Federal Director of Information.