One of the major challenges facing mankind is to provide an equitable standard of living adequate food, clean water, safe shelter and energy, a healthy and secure environment, an educated public, and satisfying work- for this and future generations. Of all these necessities, the first and most basic to human life and survival is ensuring food security, which majority of the populace of a country have access to domestically produced food a t affordable prices at all times. It is not an over statement to assert that the growth and development of any nation depend, to a large extent, on the development of agriculture. This so because even industrial enterprises rely on agricultural undertakings to produce the raw materials that are transformed, using human resources, into capital goods.
With the discovery of oil at Oloibiri (Bayelsa state) in 1959, agricultural productivity continues to lag far behind as a source of foreign exchange earnings to the nation. Agriculture is generally believed to propel economic growth and facilitate the achievement of structural transformation and diversification of economies. It empowers a country to fully utilize its factor endowments and thus reduces dependence on the oil for sustenance. If the agricultural sector is well developed, the economy will gain as the standard of living of its people would improve. To address this enigma, successive administration from 1960 to date put in place several food policies aimed at making the sub-sector takes its rightful place. Food policy may be seen as an integrated approach to issues that concern basically the food sector of an economy, but which is influenced not only by the linkages within the sector but also by the linkages among the rest of the economy and the international economic system.
Food policy, therefore, involves not only activities in agricultural production but also includes feeding the industries, food processing, and manufacturing, distribution and marketing, trade and consumption with the output from the major employer of labour, the sector raises the level of industrialization by providing food for the labour force. This is true because a poorly feed worker cannot supply efficient labour services which high-level industrialization entails. This is elaborately manifested especially when viewed against the background that food is the source of energy and energy by definition is the ability to do work. Against this background, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua realized this fact when he made food security and agriculture one of his cannons in his seven point agenda.
Over the years, the various governments of the country have enunciated and implemented a myriad of agricultural policies and programmes in an attempt to stimulate the sustainable growth and development of the agricultural sector. Till date, the achievement of these remains a subject6 of discuss both at the public and private for a. the paper examines the role statistics has played in the developments of the agriculture sector since 1960 with a view to gaining an insight into the extent of the transformations of the sector, particularly its contribution to ensuring food security.
All over the country and internationally, the publication of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) such as the annual report and statement of account, the statistical bulletin, economic and financial review, the bullion and Nigeria: major economic and banking indicators and those of the national bureau of statistics (NBS) have become a veritable source of data and reference materials on Nigeria. Without basic information on economic developments, it would be very difficult for policy makers to assess economic performances. The formulation of appropriate macroeconomic policies to address the problems of inflation (food shortages), the balance of payments equilibrium, sluggish economic growth, and equitable income distribution requires adequate, reliable and up-to-date data. Agriculture constitutes one of the most important sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Despite Nigeria’s rich agricultural resource endowment and the various policies instituted by successive administrations, the sector has been growing at a very low rate and this has increased the incidence of poverty in Nigeria especially in the informal sector. President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua realized this fact when he made ‘food security and agriculture’ one of the pillars in the seven point agenda of his administration. However, in the last fifty years, the sector which supposes to be the main driver of economic growth has not performed the role adequately in terms of foreign exchange earnings and better linkages with other sectors of the economy. To redress this enigma and to bring back the old glory of the sector, there is the need for adequate planning in terms of human and material resources, and these cannot be divorced from adequate, reliable and consistent statistics.
CONCEPTUAL AND THEORETICAL ISSUES
Agriculture is the production of food, feed, fiber and other goods by the systematic growing and harvesting of plants and animals. It is the science of making use of the land to raise plant and animals. It is the simplifications of nature’s food webs and the rechanneling of energy for human planting and animal consumption. Until the exploitation of oil reserve began in the 1980’s, Nigeria’s economy was largely dependent on agriculture. Although only a tiny proportion of the population benefits from the oil boom, investment in agriculture have been allowed to decline to the extent that it productivity lag behind even some of the poorest countries in the region. Nigeria’s wide range of climate variations allows it to produce a variety of food and cash crop. The staple food crops include: cassava, yam, corn, coco-yam, cowpea, beans, variety of fruits and vegetables, etc the leading cash crops are: cocoa, citrus, cotton, groundnut (peanuts), palm oil, etc they were also Nigeria’s major exports in the 1960s and early 1970s until petroleum surpasses them in 1970s.
THE ROLE OF STATISTICS IN SHAPING POLICY FORMULATION
The first president of the European Monetary Institute (EMI), Baron Alexandre Lamfalussy, wrote in 1960: nothing is more important for monetary policy than good statistics. Statistical information is necessary to decide what policy actions to take, explain them publicly, and to assess their effects after the event. Unless policy can be justified and explained, it will not be understood and the institution carrying it out will lack credibility. We cannot think of a better way to put the role of statistics for monetary policy purposes. What is especially important in this statement is that good data are not only required for the decision-making process, per se but also especially for the communications aspects of monetary policy. Good statistics are not only needed for an open market policy, but also for an open mouth policy. As monetary policy works to a large extent via expectations, this is crucially important.
- Statistics for managing government
- Data for managing the economy
- Data for long-term policy making
- Using data to improve people’s lives
- Statistics to attract foreign investment
AGRICULTURAL POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES IN NIGERIA (1960-2007)
RATIONALE FOR AGRICULTURAL POLICIES IN NIGERIA:
In Nigeria’s political history, the agricultural sector like other sector was bedeviled with series of problems which was due largely to poor planning. This planning or what was described as policy somersaults cannot be divorced from deviation from what the data says, as elaborately discussed in the literature by Olayemi and Dittoh (1989) and Okunmadewa (1993). The major constraint identified is as follows:
- Technical constraints such as; high incidence of pests and diseases, inadequate infrastructural facilities, dependence on improved inputs and rudimentary technology.
- resource constraints such as; shortage of labour supply due to the migration of able-bodied youths from rural to urban areas, the problem of low agricultural labour productivity, increasing population pressure on land as well as a declining quality of land.
- Socioeconomic constraints such as scarcity and the high cost of improved farm inputs, inefficient marketing arrangements characterized by high marketing margins, lack of grades and standards, and lack of legally enforceable ownership and controls rights over land which serves as a disincentive to investing in agriculture and which arises from the lack appropriate land tenure system.
- Organizational constraints such as; agricultural production are predominantly in the hands of a multitude of small scale unorganized farmers scattered across the country.
AGRICULTURAL POLICIES AND ITS APPRAISAL OF THE POLICIES IN THE LAST FIVE DECADES
Within the 50 years of political history, (October 1960 to 2010), the government of Nigeria changed hands thirteen times, some regimes lasting less than one year. The instability in the political structure or leadership of the country has also resulted in frequent changes in the thrust of agricultural policy. In the face of all these, one would be tempted to ask if policy makers ever make use of data for their planning purposes. William stopper during the early days of the country development plan summarized the bane of Nigeria policy making as “planning without facts”. Some policies were introduced without any genuine political or economic reasons, but merely because they sound different from previous ones.
The regime under Tafawa Balewa (1960-1965) was characterized by very limited policies as far as agricultural development was concerned. The regional administrations simply continued with the colonial policies of plantation agriculture. During these period statistics and data storage for planning purposes were at its rudimentary stage. However, there was instability of the research institutes from one ministry to another. There was also a problem with the funding of these institutes.
The period 1966-70, marked the 30 months of civil war that climaxed the turbulence in the Nigeria political scene. This hardly provided an enabling environment for reasonable policy formulation nor the use of data for any meaningful purposes as the Aguyi-Ironsi led administration which lasted for only 6 months could not formulate or implement the Gowon administration succeeding the war years, however, saw a number of agriculture-related degrees. This era also witnessed the introduction project (NAFPP) in 1973, the establishment of the Nigerian agricultural and cooperative bank (NACB) in 1973, the introduction of the integrated agricultural development projects (ADPs) in 1975 and the National Grains reserve program (NGRP) in 1975.
The NAFPP was designed to accelerate the production of major staple crops. There were also the National Grains and Root Crops Cultivation Programmes which were aim at increasing the production of it mandate crops. However, most of the programme started very well but the withdrawer of political support and lifting of the ban on wheat export affected the Murtala-Obasanjo (February 1976-October 1979) witnessed the emphasis on modern technology in the ADPs led their agricultural research and extension services. This administration introduces quite a number of policies and programmes. In 1976, Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) was launched to mobilize to take an active part in the agricultural production. Under the programme, agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, credit and bush clearing activities were highly subsidized. The River Basin Development Authorities, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme were introducing in 1977. The River basin Development Authorities were aimed at developing the various river basin areas in the country while agricultural credit scheme was meant to reduce the risk borne by commercial banks by extending credit to farmers and the rural banking scheme to encourage the rural banking habit. Later, programme s for multiplication of improved seeds generally fell short of goals. Supplies of fertilizers were erratic largely due to centralized government control on international procurement and a very heavy subsidy programme.
During the Shehu Shagari administration (October 1979-December 1983) the only agricultural programme of note introduced was the green revolution. The programme involve the provision of improved seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, irrigation, water, credit, appropriate mechanization, agro service centres, improved marketing system and pricing policy as well as other incentives necessary for farming. The target was to make the country self-sufficient in basic food production within five years and to rehabilitate and restore the production of export production in seven years.
The regime succeeding the administration (Buhari-Idiagbon) did not introduce any reasonable agricultural programme except the increase river basin authorities from eleven to eighteen in 1984. Although the increase was aimed at decentralizing the authorities and bringing her functions and activities close to the rural populace, the number was returned back to the former 11 with the coming of another regime. In the face of these, the relegation in the use of statistics/data cannot be overemphasized.
From August 1985 to August 1993, Ibrahim Babangida headed the administration of this nation, a regime that lasted longer than any other one since independence. He introduced Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in 1986. The adoption of SAP was a fall-out of the crisis in the Nigerian economy which arose from the collapse of oil prices in the world market. Among the programmes and policies of the administration was the Directorate for food, road and rural infrastructure (DFRRI) and the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), which were both established in 1986, the river basin authorities were reorganized and trade liberation policy was adopted in 1986. The government rural infrastructural programmes were embarked upon with limited programme of action and appropriate institutional arrangements for their execution.
The Abacha regime which brought some modification, the ‘guided regulation’ policies had no major programme except that there were two exchange rates during this period. The NALDA approach increased rather than reduce the direct public provision of goods and services which could have been provided by the private sector instead. Many of NALDAs services were duplications, albeit on a more intensive basis of services provided by ADPs.
The third republic (Obasanjo 1999-2007) initiated several food policies. However, inadequate funding and lack of institutional arrangements especially deviant for database policies for implementation hampered some of them. The initiative generated interest and production increased but there were no concurrent provisions for storage and processing resulting in large post harvest losses and apathy on the side of the farmers.
FOOD SECURITY AND AGRICULTURE WITHIN THE SEVEN-POINT AGENDA (2007): Are POLICIES BASED ON STATISTICS
At the inception of his administration, President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua who succeeded chief Olusegun Obasanjo earmarked on a seven-point agenda so that the nation can move forward and be among the 20 largest economies by the year 2020. Briefly, the seven-point agenda include energy and power, food security and agriculture, wealth creation, education, land reforms, mass transit and the Niger Delta issue.
THE SEVEN-POINT AGENDA: AGRICULTURAL POLICY THRUST:
Like the Obasanjo administration (1999-2007) the thrusts of the policy direction for agriculture and food security within the seven-point agenda include;
- Creating the conducive macro-environment to stimulate greater private sector investment in agriculture so that
- The private sector can assume its appropriate role as the lead and main actor in agriculture.
- Rationalizing the roles of the tiers of government in their promotional and supportive activities to stimulate growth.
- Reorganizing the institutional framework for government intervention in the sector to facilitate the smooth and integrated development of agricultural potentials.
- Articulating and implementing integrate d rural development as a priority national programme to raise the quality of life of the people.
- Increasing agricultural production through increased budgetary allocation and promotion of the necessary developmental, supportive and service-oriented activities to enhance production and productivity and marketing opportunities.
- Increasing fiscal incentives to agriculture, among another sector, and reviewing import waiver anomalies with appropriate tariffication of agricultural imports.
- Promotion increased use of agricultural machinery and inputs through favorable tariff policy
Arising from the redefined role of the federal government, its thrust of activities will be directed to obviate the technical and structural problems of agriculture in the following aspect; Development activities, Animal vaccine production, Veterinary drug manufacturer, Agrochemicals manufacture, Water management, Agricultural development, Supportive activities, Input supply and distribution and Credit and micro-credit.
THE NEED FOR RELIABLE DATA TOWARDS AN AGENDA FOR RESUSCITATING AGRICULTURAL EXPORTS TO BOOST FOREIGN EXCHANGE EARNINGS
Getting incentives right for farming in general and in particular for export crops production holds the key to the resuscitation of exports. the focus should not be mainly on reviving the dwindled fortunes of traditional export commodities, add value to traditional ones and new markets through appropriate pricing and marketing incentives and through the provision of an enabling environment that can spur agricultural development. These cannot be done without reliable statistics. Among the principal policy measures required are the need to:
- Mobilize the private sector through appropriate pricing and market incentives for all classes of farmers, fostering rural savings and credit schemes and through improving rural infrastructure so as to stem the rising rural-urban drift and market transaction costs.
- Harnessing technology through the search for higher-yielding varieties, expanding fertilizer use, controlling pest and diseases, irrigation water availability and control, agricultural equipment, livestock, measures to promote fishers, better agricultural research, improving agricultural extension and the supply of inputs and reorienting agricultural education.
- Protecting the rural environment through reforestation schemes, avoiding cultural practices that result in land degradation but stresses soil and water conservation.
- Providing rural infrastructure: roads, water, electricity and cheap source of mechanical energy. These are important for curtailing production and transactions costs as well as fostering appropriate link with urban markets for sales of produce and purchase of necessary inputs.
- Developing ‘farmers’ associations and recognizing the role of women these would empower the people to collectively take advantage of capital and other intensive resources required for production.
- Redefining land rights to grant access to new investors, women and make the current traditional system amenable to modernization.
In conclusion, the key to the resuscitation of agricultural exports is to make the farm sector more productive through better policies and stronger institutions, and most of all, developing and empowering the people.
METHODOLOGY AND DATA ANALYSIS
For the purpose and success of this very study, primary data was used through a questionnaire. A total of fifteen (15) questionnaires have been designed and identified by means of sampling procedures. The questionnaire instrument has been administrated and Documentary method of data collection had also been used by the researcher aimed at ascertaining objective and gets a very fair conclusion that may be related upon. The simple percentage method of data analysis was used. Now the data which was collected for analysis could be diagrammatically explained below;
Question; has statistics play any significant role in agricultural policies formulation?
Source: field survey 2011
From the above data of table 0.1, we can conclude that youth statistics have not improved agricultural policies formulations over the years. Since more than 50% percent took no as their response. Just a26.7% chooses yes which is far below the average of the total respondents.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
It must be emphasized that in other to ensure adequate food security in Nigeria, the nature of governance counts in the growth and development process. Good governance and societal peace are the sine qua non for the pursuit of sustainable socio-economic development. The opposite of good governance is known to impact severely on all facets of the society and ultimately on the economy as a whole. The destructive manifestations of bad governance include poverty, corruption, conflict, and changes in government, but these can be reversed by good governance. As encapsulated in the seven-point agenda mission statement… “we need to provide the correct leadership, we need to ensure the correct conduct and the correct attitude and we need to plan well towards our objectives so as to lay a solid foundation for building a modern industrialization nation that will meet the developmental needs of our people, their educational needs, their health needs and their psychological needs and develop the environment for them to grow and develop their potentials”
The level of poverty, corruption, and conflicts are some of the barometers for measuring the development of a country. The challenges for the policy makers in the area of statistics are many and varied. Some of them include the gray areas that government should address:
- close the policy-revealed gaps in agricultural statistics;
- keep track of possible changes in the economic environment that impact negatively on agricultural production;
- keep track of artificial and cultural changes that might have repercussions on the production of agricultural commodities;
- make the facts and analyses underlying the decision-making process clear, i.e. show which decisions were taken based on which statistics;
- defends and enhance the independence of statistics in policy making;
- Ensure adequate resources for statistics to meet both present and future challenges so as to boost agricultural production.
It is accepted the world wide that food is the ability to do work. A poorly fed populace cannot supply the needed labour necessary to move the nation forward. In doing this, there must be reasonable policies while the policy makers must inculcate the spirit of good leadership; execute viable policies which must be based on reliable statistics.
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