No doubt agriculture remains key to the country’s economic diversification agenda and has received a lot of attention by the government in recent times.
Amidst growing uncertainties and vulnerabilities in the oil sector, especially as the debate on renewable or alternative energy sources intensifies globally, agriculture, with its vast potential has become the new gold mine for the Nigerian economy as it tries to boost non-oil ventures.
The sector remains the largest sector contributing an average of 24 per cent to the country’s GDP between 2013 – 2019, and employs over 36 per cent of the labour force. In addition, the sector holds the key to solving the country’s unemployment crisis. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) estimates that about 23.18 million Nigerians unemployment with the unemployment rate put at 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020 (Q4 2020) compared to 27.1 per cent in Q2.
However, until recently, agriculture had been abandoned by past administrations following the discovery of oil, which had now become unsustainable as alternative energy sources emerge.
With the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic which almost crippled world economies and subjected developing economies like Nigeria to serious fiscal constraints, the government has realized the urgent need to further diversify its revenue base into non-oil sectors by boosting support to priority sectors of the economy with high potentials to create jobs.
There has been unprecedented financial support to agriculture in a manner not witnessed since the advent of the oil economy while hitherto moribund agencies had been revived and funded to boost agriculture. It is on record that agricultural projects and ventures have enjoyed improved financial interventions from government, private and financial sectors in recent times while farmers have had easier access to credit at single digit or affordable rates through government’s interventions.
The intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in agriculture through the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) had been a game-changer that has ushered a revolution in local rice production, maize, wheat, soybeans and other products in the value chain. This Day