Statement by the Head of Nigerian Delegation and Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri at the 40th Session of the Governing Council of Ifad
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Rome, Italy, 14th – 15th February, 2017
Fellow Governors and Delegates,
The President of IFAD,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
First, Your Excellencies, allow me to extend the felicitations of the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and that of Nigerian farmers to the entire members of the Governing Council and to commend the IFAD for the good arrangement put in place for the meeting.
The 40th Session of the IFAD Governing Council remains of critical importance as it offers the opportunity for appointment of a new President to pilot the affairs of the IFAD in the next four years. Let me profoundly congratulate the out-going IFAD President, Nigeria-born Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze for the remarkable way he has been piloting the affairs of the IFAD these eight years which has made it one of the nest practice UN International Financial Development Institutes in recent years. We have seen a reengineered and vibrant IFAD contributing more towards reducing poverty and improving food security and nutrition among the member nations through the improvement of agricultural development in those countries. We are most proud of your tremendous achievements in the past eight years.
His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development launched a time-bound aggressive plan to unlock Nigeria’s agricultural potential through The Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) (2016-2020) – The Green Alternative. The purpose of The Agricultural Policy Document is to provide a disciplined approach to building a resilient agribusiness ecosystem that will solve the core issues at the heart of limited food production and delivery of quality standards. Tackle lack of lending to farmers by the financial system and the dramatic level of food imports from across the world.
The private sector will remain in the lead while Government facilitates as well as provides supporting infrastructures, systems, control processes and oversight. The key Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will take on more of a regulator’s role to ensure a nuanced commercial development of the market necessary to close the identified gaps.
The success of the new policy hinges on engagement of market place participants, farmers, states, investors, financial institutions and communities, research laboratories, performance-based Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Agriculture as a Business and not a Development Program, implementing a full Value-Chain Approach, from Farm to Table; Government-enabled, Private Sector-driven Transformation.
The Green Alternative is made up of three (3) thrust components of;
- Productivity Enhancements which comprise access to land, soil fertility, access to information and knowledge, access to inputs, production management, storage, processing, marketing and trade, consumption and nutrition;
- Crowding in private sector investment which entails ensuring greater access to finance, promoting agribusiness and ensuring investment development; and
- Institutional Strengthening Realignment of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development which include institutional setting and roles, youth and women, infrastructure, climate smart agriculture, research and innovation and food and nutrition security.
The policy intends to achieve some key targets among which are unlocking the full potentials of the agricultural sector through the creation of enhanced opportunities for private sector investment and ensuring additional steady inflows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the sector. Others are to create a healthy competitive market for agro entrepreneurs, provide easy accessibility in terms of business contacts amongst value chain operators, and building smallholder entrepreneurs into big businesses. The success of the new policy will be driven by the levels of engagement of farmers, entrepreneurs, financial institutions, marketers and exporters.
At this juncture, I wish to call on the IFAD and other development partners to support Nigeria to achieve the set goals of the Agricultural Promotion Policy (2016-2020) – The Green Alternative. On our part, we will continue to support IFAD to play its leading role in addressing global food insecurity and poverty.
The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria looks forward to continued strategic partnership with IFAD.
Thank you for your kind attention.