Agricultural production increases by 700 billion naira amid worsening insecurity

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The National Bureau of Statistics reports that total agricultural production in the second quarter of the year increased to N9.3tn from N8.6tn recorded in the first quarter.

This resulted in a 700 billion naira increase in the total output generated in the agricultural sector.

The results show that of the four sub-sectors that make up the agricultural sector, two recorded a decline in economic performance while the other two experienced a decline in productivity.

The two sub-sectors that have recorded an increase in economic performance are crop production, from 7.2 to 7.5 tonnes; and forestry, which increased by 2.5 billion naira, from 73.3 billion naira to 75.8 billion naira.

The livestock sub-sector experienced a significant decline in productivity during the period under review, from N 613 billion to N 508 billion.

Likewise, production in the fisheries sub-sector fell by 144 billion naira, from 663.9 billion naira recorded in the first quarter to 519 billion naira recorded in the second quarter.

The performance of the agricultural sector shows that at present, the sector is resilient to the major challenges that afflict it, such as worsening insecurity in the country’s food-producing states, lack of access to premium buyers due to low economies of scale; limited access to credit due to poor bankability indicators and poor farming practices that lead to low yields, climate change, among others.

There has been support from agencies such as the African Development Bank.

Recently, the AfDB Country Director for Nigeria, Lamin Barrow, said the bank and its development partners are mobilizing $ 520 million to co-finance the first phase of the special agro-industrial processing zones in Nigeria.

The federal government had launched several initiatives and programs to stimulate agricultural production in line with its goal of diversifying the economy.

In addition, one of the programs that stood out was the Anchors Borrowers program initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2015 which provided loans to farmers in various agricultural sub-sectors.

The CBN had previously said the program would create an economic link between smallholders and reputable large processors to increase agricultural production and significantly improve the capacity utilization of agricultural enterprises.

The beneficiaries of this program included farmers growing cereals (rice, maize, wheat, etc.), cotton, roots and tubers, sugar cane, tree crops, legumes, tomatoes and livestock.

However, the effectiveness of the program was continually hampered by security concerns across the country.

PUNCH previously reported how bandit activities on the farmland of ABP beneficiaries delayed the repayment of loans granted under the program.

An economist and CEO of SD&D Capital Management, Idakolo Gbolade, however, warned that if insecurity continued to increase, there would be serious implications that would crush the resilience of the agricultural sector.

He said: “If the insecurity rate continues to rise, it would have serious consequences for the economy.

“One of the consequences is that the economy will continue to contract. Besides, there will be a high cost of production which will lead to continuous food inflation, high cost of goods and services.

“So far we have seen that insecurity has also led to low purchasing power of the population.”

He added that this could further reduce investor confidence in Nigeria and increase the country’s poverty rate.

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