Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry including Stakeholders in the real sector, agriculture commodities association and farmers have expressed dismay over the fall in the growth of agriculture in the first quarter of 2018.
The Director-General, LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, attributed the declining growth in the agricultural sector to the impact of herdsmen and farmers clashes among other factors.
The Statistician-General of the Federation, Yemi Kale, in his recent interview agreed that the clashes in various parts of the country had affected food production and the growth of agriculture.
In its Gross Domestic Product report for first quarter of 2018, the National Bureau of statistics disclosed that the sector grew by 5.80 per cent year-on-year in nominal terms, showing a decline of 4.01 percentage points and 4.33 percentage points from the first quarter 2017 and the fourth quarter 2017, respectively.
Four subsectors make up the agricultural sector; and they are crop production, livestock, forestry and fishery.
Crop production is expectedly the major driver of the sector, which the NBS said accounted for 85.28 per cent of overall nominal growth of the agricultural sector.
In the first quarter of 2018, agriculture contributed 17.42 per cent to the nominal GDP. This figure is lower than the rates recorded in the first quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2017 at 18 per cent and 21.93 per cent, respectively.
The NBS said the non-oil sector as a whole grew by 0.76 per cent in real terms during the review quarter. This is higher by 0.04 per cent compared to the rate recorded same quarter of 2017 and 0.70 per cent lower than the fourth quarter of 2017.
In addition to agriculture (crop production), other drivers of the non-oil sector growth were financial institutions and insurance, manufacturing, transportation and storage and information and communication.
“In real terms, the non-oil sector contributed 90.39 per cent to the nation’s GDP, lower than 91.47 per cent recorded in the first quarter of 2017 and 92.65 per cent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2017,” the bureau stated.
“Obviously, if people cannot go to the farms, it is going to be a problem,” he said, adding, “Agriculture is not just crops; cattle rearing is also part of agriculture; so the back and forth are affecting both crop production and livestock. And agriculture is the biggest part of our GDP and that is slowing down the economy.”
The National President, Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association, Mr Victor Iyama, told our correspondent that the farmers and herdsmen crisis affected operators in a very bad way, adding, “People are afraid to go to the farms.”
According to him, in addition to this, paucity of funds is a major challenge as farmers cannot have access to single-digit-interest loans.
Although the Central Bank of Nigeria had introduced the Anchor Borrowers Programme to grow the agricultural sector, stakeholders pointed out that the programme only took care of the rice sector, stressing that agriculture was not only about rice.
Iyama said it was the hope of operators that the Bank of Agriculture would receive funding soon.
While speaking during a two-day summit titled ‘Feeding Futures Africa’, the President, Farm and Infrastructure Foundation, Prof. Gbolagade Ayoola, stressed that the policy environment had to be right for the sector to thrive.
He said if private investment in agriculture was to be encouraged, the government had to put the right policies in place to make that happen.
He said that over the years, there had been absence of a legal framework supporting food security the way it was done in advanced countries.
“Nigerian government must articulate their policies to show their respect to the people’s right to food,” he said.
The President, LCCI, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, expressed worry over the impact of the declining growth of agriculture on food inflation.
During his review of the state of the economy in August 2, Ruwase said food inflation was of a great concern to stakeholders.