The business community is saying Nigeria is moving too slow on agriculture reform. The country is reforming its farming sector to bolster production and draw investment but companies say more needs to be done to tackle entrenched corruption, poor infrastructure and rogue government agencies, reports Business Day Live.
For the first time Nigeria’s annual economic summit focused on agriculture; this was in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to fixing Nigeria’s biggest employer.
“Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina, who has been praised by donors and businesses for his efforts, was keen to stress the success of reforms begun two years ago,” reports the website.
Adesina said subsidies used to reduced the cost of fertilizer for farmers were no longer managed by corrupt politicians but instead were given directly to farmers.
Agriculture has on an upswing in Nigeria. Food imports had fallen by $5.2 billion and food production was up by 8-million metric tons, Adesina said, helping to create 2.2-million new jobs.
But the government wants to add 20-million tons of domestic food production by 2020, and rice, corn, sorghum, palm oil and cocoa had already increased.
Right now Nigeria is the world’s second-largest importer of rice; but Nigeria aims to become self-sufficient by 2015 after introducing a 100 percent tax on polished rice imports this year, likely to mostly affect countries such as India, Thailand and Brazil.
This has hit a snag as security sources and farmers have said there has been a rise in smuggling of rice and sugar from neighboring countries and into ports.
Higher cassava output has been used to make flour, reducing wheat imports mostly from the US by almost 9 percent, Adesina said.
“The country’s reforms have drawn new foreign investors such as food giant Cargill, seed company Syngenta and brewer SABMiller, while Dangote Sugar and others are investing more,” reports Business Day Live.