“THE ROAD TO CONSISTENT POLICY AND SUSTAINED
IMRANA YAZID (B.729)
In the presentation of this paper I intend to discuss what constitutes agricultural development and using this yard-stick compare and contrast the various policies which different administrations have introduced in Nigeria, discuss their strength and weaknesses and finally suggest additional measures which should be taken to have a consistent agricultural policy and sustained agricultural development.
According to FAO for any effective agricultural development that will lead to self sufficiency in production the following broad areas have to be satisfied:
1. There must be political will;
2. Clearly defined objectives and target;
3. Supply of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, insecti cides, equipment, etc;
4. Supply of credit facilities;
5. Market and market prices;
6. Effective storage facilities;
7. Sound farmer education.
The various government programmes I intend to discuss are the Operation Feed the Nation, the Green Revolution, the Operation Grow More Food and the Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure, i.e. the agricultural programmes of the last four administrations.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The Operation Feed the Nation programme set its aims and objectives as follows:-
(i) Total mobilisation of the nation towards self sufficiency and self
reliance in food;
(ii) Encourage the sector of the population which relies on buying food to grow its own food, e.g. schools, universities, Military Establishments etc;
(iii) Encouraging general pride in agriculture through the realisa tion that a nation which cannot feed itself cannot be proud;
(iv) Encouraging balance nutrition thereby producing a healthy na tion.
The objectives of the Green Revolution are better illustrated by the agricultural objectives of the administration’s Development Plan which states as follows:-
(i) Increase production of food and other raw materials to meet the needs of a growing population and rising industrial produc tion; a basic objective in this respect is the attainment of self sufficiency in food in about five years;
(ij) Increased production of livestock and fish to meet domestic needs and create a surplus for export;
(iii) Increased production and processing of export crops with a view to expanding and diversifying the country’s export earn ing; in this respect a target of seven years is set for revival of our cash crops;
(iv) The expansion of employment opportunities to absorb the I increasing labour force of the nation;
(v) The evaluation of appropriate institutional and administrative operations to facilitate the rapid development of the country’s agricultural potential;
(vi) The Government will encourage production of agricultural commodities on a commercial scale in the areas of food crops, tree crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry.
The objectives of the Operation Grow More Food programme was to mobilise the people for self sufficiency in food production. The programme was not fully developed before the change of government.
The objectives of the Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure are as follows:-
(i) Substantially improving the quality and nutritional balance of food intake of the rural people;
(ii) Raising the quality of rural housing as well as general living and working environment in the rural areas;
(iii) Creating greater opportunities for human development and employment, particularly self employment and thereby enhanc ing their income level;
(iv) Making it possible to have a progressively wider range and variety of goods and services produced and consumed by rural people themselves as well as for exchange;
(v) Improving he lath condition of the rural people;
(vi) Use enormous resources of the rural areas to lay a solid foun dation for the security, socio-cultural, political and economic growth and development of the nation by linking the growth and development activities of the rural areas to those of the lo cal government areas, the states and the nation;
(vii) To ensure deeply rooted and self sustaining development pro cess based on effectively mobilised mass participation, starting from the grass roots and encompassing the entire nation.
It is clear from the foregoing that all the programmes have objectives, and all of them have self sufficiency in food as a target. But it is only the Green Revolution which had 5 and 7 years as final targets for achieving the objectives. While OFN planned to involve farmers as well as people who were traditionally not farmers, the Green Revolution and Operation Grow More Food were silent on this, while the Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure.
However, it is only under the Green Revolution and the Directorate that the question of employment was mentioned and also it was the Directorate which had road construction and housing as objectives of the policies.
Therefore the condition of clear objective as a requirement for agricultural development had been fulfilled by all the three programmes except the Operation Grow More Food where it had not been clearly articulated because the study which was commissioned by
that administration that would have provided the basis for the objective had not been implemented before the change of government.
The National Secretariat of OFN was housed at the Supreme Headquarters with the Chief of Staff as the Chairman of the National Council comprising of Ministers. There was a National Committee consisting of representatives from various Federal Ministries. At the State level the State Committee was under the office of the Governor while the Chairmen were State officials with representatives from various State Ministries as members. There were Local Government Committees which were to be under Local Government Areas.
Chiefs or Emirs but the Local Government had not been fully developed to allow for full implementation at this level.
Under the Green Revolution Programme the President was the Chairman of the National Council with State Commissioners of Agric. as members. At the State level local farmers were appointed as Chairmen with members drawn from various Ministries and private farmers. No Local Government Committees were set up.
Under the Operation Grow More Food programme the Minister of Agric. was responsible for the programme. There was no Committee at National or State level.
Under the Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure the Headquarters of the Directorate is under the office of the President with Chairman and members drawn from different Ministries and Institutions. At the State level the Governor is the Chairman with members to be drawn from various institutions. At the Local Government level
a similar body would be set up with suitable organisational structure to enable people participate in the execution of the programme.
From the above outline the greatest political will was exhibited under the Green Revolution Programme where the President personally chaired the National Council followed by OFN where the Chief of Staff was the Chairman then the Directorate and finally the Operation Grow More Food.
The National, State and Local Government structure as practised under OFN and the Directorate is more suited to Nigerian condition and the innovation of having organisations at the local Government level to provide for participation of Local Committee will enhance rural development better.
The composition of the Committees which involves officials of various Ministries and private sector will ensure better co-ordination of Government activities as well as representation of the rural people. Thus incorporation of some of the OFN ideas will enhance the Directorate’s effectiveness.
We now discuss the agricultural sector of the different policies. One important feature of all the policies except Operation Grow More Food is that the programmes were additional to the normal programmes executed under the normal budgetary system. Thus special funds were allocated for the purpose or where appropriate the funds under the regular budgetary system were increased to reflect the new policy.
Before the introduction of OFN, State Governments used to import fertilizers directly from overseas at high cost due to high damage because charted vessels used to wait for as long as six months before they could get berthing facility. With the introduction of OFN importation was centralised and special berths were made available for fertilizer ships. Thus,
the quantity of fertilizer imported rose from 50,000 tonnes in 1976.to 400,000 tonnes in 1978. Furthermore a special unit was set up under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to be solely responsible for the importation and distribution of fertilizers.
When Green Revolution was introduced in 1979 importation of fertilizers was increased to 1,000,000 tonnes by 1981.Subsequently, the quantity was reduced to about 800,000 tonnes. The subsidy factor was maintained throughout the period. Attempt was made to privatise the importation and distribution, but the idea was shelved.
With the arrival of the Operation Grow More Food the general policy of importation and subsidy was maintained. Fertilizer is not Oil the programme of the Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure. This is probably because the second fertilizer factory has recently been opened and the two factories will provide substantial quantity of fertilizer needs of the country.
It is necessary to comment on the opinion of some uninformed people who are not farmers that expenditure on fertilizers is a waste of public funds. This is far from the truth. Fertilizer- is probably the most important farm input needed by the farmers. Research in Nigeria has shown that with the application of suitable fertilizer in the right amount and at the right time peasant farmers’ yield will be increased by 50 to 300 percent. The popularity and high demand for fertilizers among farmers is a clear testimony of its value to the farming population.
Under the OFN the National Seed Service was formed and in 19n more than 2,000 tonnes of improved seeds of various types were distributed to the farmers. By the time the Green Revolution came into operation the National Seed Service was producing about 4,000 tonnes of improved seed. During this period a lot of emphasis was placed on rice
production. With the introduction of Operation Grow More Food, there was no special programme for seed except that the National Seed
Service continued to operate under the normal budgetary system.
The Directorate has production of improved seed as one of its programmes.
A” the policies seem to appreciate the need for improved seed. However, the total improved seed of grains required for the country is about 25,000 tonnes and less than half of this amount is currently available.
Fruit and Vegetables
The OFN programme embarked on large scale multiplication of vegetable seeds through the Horticultural Research Institute and Institute for Agriculture Research for distribution to farmers. Same quantity was also imported from overseas.
The Green Revolution and Operation Grow More Food did not emphasize fruit and vegetable production while the Directorate plans to cultivate “50 million fruit trees and massive vegetable seedlings”, in order to improve the general health of the people.
OFN distributed hand tools to institutions and arranged for the fabrication of some intermediate equipment from Research Institutes.
Under the programme Universities were specifically funded to produce yam and cassava harvesters, as we” as small threshers. Funds were also made available for clearing in all States.
Under the Green Revolution there was massive importation of tractors and equipment as well as rice tools and equipment, most of which were not accepted in States where the party in power at the Federal level was not in control. These equipments remained wasted.
With the introduction of the Operation Grow More Food there was hardly any programme on mechanisation while the Directorate concen
trates on fabrication of pumps and their spare parts for water supply as we” as rollers and compactors for road construction.
Credit and Crop Insurance
Under the OFN the Nigeria Agricultural and Co-operative Bank gave loans to farmers while additional loan was made available through the Commercial Bank Credit Guarantee Scheme.
The Green Revolution made available N55 million to farmers through the River Basin Authorities. Most of this money has not been recovered to the present day due to the manner in which the money was distributed to farmers.
While the Directorate does not have credit as part of its programme the Administration has liberalised the credit system by Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank and introduced crop insurance scheme. The introduction of insurance scheme is a major step forward in protecting farmers against hazards and adverse weather conditions.
Marketing and Pricing Policy
The Grains Board got a boost during the OFN programme and for the first time farmers prices for maize, g’corn, rice and millet were fixed to give farmers adequate margin of profit over and above their cost of production.
Fixing of prices for food were continued during the Green Revolution and Operation Grow More Food but Marketing and pricing policy are not part of the Directorate programme and infact the administration abolished the Marketing Boards and left market forces to determine what prices farmers receive for their cops. The result of this is that small farmers who cannot store their produce receive less prices for their crops while the middlemen and the businessmen made all the money. To further compound the situation, in an attempt to get foreign exchange the business people exported substantial quantity of grain which together with draught resulted in accute shortage of food in the country.
As the result of the vacuum created by the dissolution of the Commodity Boards with the subsequent undue suffering of farmers some States are considering establishing their Marketing Boards.
Insecticides, fungicides and herbicides are very vital for the effective farming programme. It was only during the Green Revolution that substantial quantities of these chemicals were made available to farmers. Neither OFN, Operation Grow More Food nor the Directorate had chemicals as one of their major programmes. But the present administration plans to go into manufacture of chemicals.
None of the policies except OFN was directly involved in additional programme to directly educate farmers to improve farming except through the normal services of extension system. Under the OFN special radio programmes as well as additional publications on
farming were introduced.
Training Institutions and Armed Forces
During the OFN regime training institutions such as Secondary Schools, Teacher Training Colleges and Armed Forces were involved in farming programmes. Some of the Universities were able to supplement their food supply and improved their revenue through sale of eggs and farm by-products.
This policy was seriously criticised for being wasteful especially the involvement of University Students.
The Operation Grow More Food made a success of the introduction of farming in Secondary Schools especially in Bende4 State.
None of the other policies have introduced institutional programmes.
Fifty thousand day old chicks and over 17,000 tonnes of premix were imported in an attempt to increase poultry production under OFN. During the Green Revolution importation of maize continued and poultry production improved substantially.
Plans to increase rabbit production during OFN and Green Revolution did not materialise.
The Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure, on the other hand, has allocated N10 million for the development of cattle, poultry, piggery, rabbitry, sheep, goats, etc.
During the OFN and the Green Revolution cannoes, fishing boats, and gears were made available to fishermen at 50% subsidy. The Directorate plans to produce 50 million fingering and about 180,000 tonnes of fish feed.
OFN commissioned studies on targets for self sufficiency up to the year 1995. Under the Green Revolution large number of studies were undertaken to provide basis for various agricultural programmes. During the Operation Grow More Food a study was undertaken
to achieve level of self sufficiency.
The writer is aware of studies under the Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure conducted by various panels to provide basis for implementing some programmes.
What seems to be obvious is that there is tremendous amount of data available for planning in this county and each successive administration conducts its own study for its programmes.
Plans were made under OFN for construction of 250,000 tonnes storage capacity of which only 87,000 tonnes capacity was available. Successive programmes have been promising construction of that storage capacity but have only succeeded in hiring storage facilities instead. The Directorate has plans for building 250,000 tonnes storage capacity.
Road, Electricity and Water Supply
Only the Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure has improvement of roads, electricity and water supply in its programme. Even though these are not part of ingredients for direct agricultural development we have enumerated, they directly contribute to improving transportation of food, industrialisation and general welfare of the people.
The total amount of money spent by OFN directly was N36.2m. while the Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure has budgeted a total of N1,34O,000 over a period of three years. no figures are available for the Green Revolution but it is estimated that between N200 and N500 million must have been spent during the four year period of the existence of the programme.
It can also be inferred that the total amount of money voted in the programme is a measure of the political will of the administration concerned.
From the criteria for effective agricultural development enumerated at the beginning of this paper the OFN had clear objectives, demonstrated political will, for the first time, introduced a special agricultural programme under the Chairmanship of the Chief of Staff.
The programme supplied fertilizers, seed and equipment at subsidised prices. Credit was supplied, market for crops were available and crop prices guaranteed. Even though there was a plan for increased storage
the plan never materialised but there was attempt to educate farmers on how to grow their crops.
OFN was criticised for its involvement in students programme as well as for some of the wastes in distribution of fertilizer, a problem which still exists to the present day. If OFN did not succeed it was not because the programme was faulty but because it did not have enough time to mature and too many crops were handled at the same time.
The Green Revolution had demonstrated the highest political will by having the President as Chairman, had clear objectives and target of achieving self sufficiency in five and seven years. There was massive distribution of inputs at subsidised prices, farmer education was limited to the regular extension programme and no additional storage facilities were built. The greatest set back to the Green Revolution was its lack of acceptance in states other than those in which the political party in power in the centre was in control. The Green Revolution did not succeed not because the programme was not sound but because it did not last for sufficient amount of time and also it did not find favour with some politicians in some states and too many crops were handled. The Green Revolution countries that have succeeded in achieving self sufficiency handled maximum of three crops.
What has happened to the Green Revolution should be of concern since of the four programmes under discussion it was the only one established during the civilian administration. If it could not find universal acceptance we have no guarantee that similar future civilian programmes will find total acceptance. The only solution is to incorporate the criteria for agricultural development acceptable in the constitution with a provision for at least certain percentage of the budget to the programme.
We may borrow a leaf from U.S.A. where the Morrill Act was introduced in 1862, modified up to 1914 and constitutes the basis for extension system which had revolutionised agriculture in the United States of America.
The Operation Grow More Food did not nave a clear objective and target like the other programmes and neither did it receive the same political will as the other concepts. But the support it received In the State with the backing of the traditional leadership and in the absence of any other business coupled with favourable weather condition resulted in an unprecedented increase in food production.
The Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure has the political will as demonstrated not only by having the National office in the office of the President, but also by the amount of money voted for the programme. Credit facilities are being guaranteed, effective storage facility is being planned. The presence of the World Bank project in most of the States will ensure sound farmer education.
It is too early to judge the agricultural programme of the Directorate unlike its activity in road construction and water supply which were started earlier. But three areas are of concern to an observer under the criteria for effective development in agriculture. The first area is that the number of crops targeted for self sufficiency is too many. They should be reduced to maize, rice and millet. The second area of concern is the abolition of the Marketing Boards. By this decision it is believed that the farmers will get better prices for their commodities. But in actual reality it is the middlemen and the business people, who can afford to store the produce after harvest, that get high prices for the crops. For the foreign exchange, it is the business people who export the grains outside the country not the farmers that get the money. As the result of the export of grains, coupled with draught we are today facing serious shortage of grains and increased food prices.
Similarly as the result of abolition of the Marketing Boards the high price of cotton is only obtained by the middlemen and the advantage in quality of cotton from Southern Zone compared with the Northern Zone which is the result of more than 50 years of research has been lost due to indiscriminate mixing of seeds. Furthermore the supply of seed to farmers which was previously guaranteed is no longer certain.
The purpose of the Marketing Board is to protect the small scale farmer from fluctuations in the market. All the major developments in the country were carried out with the surpluses from the Marketing Boards in the hay days of agriculture. If agriculture is no longer making the financial contribution it had made in the early years this is no time to abandon the Boards. It is indeed the time when farmers need maximum price support. If the farmers had been sufficiently organised to take over the Marketing this would have been a satisfactory arrangement.
Same States are now contemplating establishing State Marketing Boards to replace the abolished ones. The solution is for Government to transfer the marketing of crops to farmers organisation only.
The third area of concern is the whole question of subsidy. It must be pointed out that with the small scale holdings of farmers, the high cost of inputs which are all imported as well as the high cost of living, a small scale farmer can only make a living out of farmir.9 if there is subsidy.
The developing countries are coming under increasing pressure from United States of America to eliminate all forms of subsidy. But they have developed their agriculture through heavy subsidy programme. If they now want to eliminate subsidy it is because they are satisfied that they can sustain their agriculture’ without it since most of the inputs are relatively cheap for them. It is therefore suggested that before even subsidy is reduced a study on ‘the effect of the reduction on the small scale farmer should be made.
There are three other areas which I will like to emphasise if agricultural development is to be sustained. The first is the question of data for planning our agriculture in Nigeria. We have no accurate data of the population in Nigeria or the total production of the various crops produced annually. The only organisation which attempts to produce agricultural statistics nation-wide is the Federal Office of Statistics, but more often than not the data when available is years out of date. The census promised by the present administration is a necessity if any planning in this
country is to be meaningful. If agricultural census can also be conducted and updated at intervals, useful basis for planning can be assured.
The second important area is the problem of draught which occur)S with increasing frequency resulting in serious hardships to millions of Nigerians. The inter basin transfer of water which has been mentioned seems to be a long term solution to the problem and in the present financial problem of the country. As a short term measure Government should stop smuggling of food and allow neighbouring countries to import food only through agreement with Nigeria. Furthermore the construction of storage facilities for grains under the programme of the Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure should be hastened. This will ensure that reserve for the rainy day is available. The construction of shelter belts across the Northern border should be hastened.
A more lasting solution could also be made by making funds available to Universities and Research Institutes to develop suitable short season varieties which will mature even in event of draught.
Finally the haphazard manner in which research is carried out in Nigeria does not augur well for the development of agriculture in a country which is in a hurry. The country needs to identify all the important bottlenecks in agriculture based on their importance and priority and make funds available to Research Institutes and Universities to solve the problems within target dates. The effort which the Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure is making in the area of water supply and road construction by commissioning for the fabrication of parts should be translated into agriculture.
In summary we can say that all the various agricultural policies initiated by the different administrations have the basic ingredients necessary for agricultural development. They differ in the emphasis they placed on the different programmes and their various limitations. Because of changes in the administration, emphasis in the different programmes has not been maintained and improved upon. To avoid this basic change
of emphasis with change in administration, the present administration should call a meeting of the two political parties when they are formed to examine the programmes of the Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure. If they endorse them the basic ingredients should be incorporated into the constitution with a provision for a minimum percentage of the budget to be allocated to the programme. In this way continuity will be assured and the country will be on a more permanent road to development of agriculture.