Diversification: Developing framework for value chains in Nigeria’s agriculture sector


Looking into developing the various value chains in the agriculture sector in Nigeria  has become pertinent. The significance  of same cannot be overemphasised if the reality of developing agriculture as an alternative and/or better still, formidable complement to oil would be attainable. The prevailing status of the sector speaks volume of several value chains which are not only underfunded, but largely undeveloped and under-optimised.

While crop cultivation and animal husbandry have been long term practices in the Country but still groping with the vicissitudes of traditional cultural methodologies, such other value chain as fishery is still largely within the circle of infantile state. The larger profile of productive activities in the value chain still rove around the craft of local fishing methods. However, this is not to say in outright terms that new modes of fishing are not taking place in the value chain. Rather, it is to express the depth of the deficits of the systemic methodology which in the Country still largely leans within the corridor of local crafting.

Recently, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) said that the fishing value chain is currently neglected and underfunded, a development that has given room to illegal fishing activities on the Country’s coastal and territorial waters. In a statement signed by its Public Relations Officer, Chinweizu Amuta, the Agency regretted inherent nature of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing makes it almost impossible to accurately quantify the full global economic impacts resulting from these illegal activities. It observed  the  underfunding deficits and neglect over the decades, have left the coastal space vulnerable to illegal fishing exploitation by foreign vessels with China, the European Union and Belize, notable for illegally exploiting Nigerian waters. According to the agency, IUU fishing activities violate both national and international fishing regulations with the issue being of global concern as it threatens ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. The Agency said like most countries in West Africa, Nigeria’s coastal waters contain diverse species of fish, which contribute to the food and economic security of its people, adding that small-scale fishing operations contribute 80 per cent of locally produced fish and support the livelihoods of 24 million Nigerians with around 73 per cent of those involved in fisheries in the country being women. The statement read partly: “The overall GDP contribution from fishing (small scale and industrial) was 0.84 per cent in 2019 and 1.09 per cent in 2020. Recently, the House of Representatives noted that the country loses $70 million each year to illegal fishing. This includes loss of licence fees, revenue from taxation and the value that could have been accrued from legitimate fishing by local vessels. Despite the important contribution that fishing makes to the livelihoods of Nigerians, the sector has suffered from underfunding and neglect over the decades leaving it vulnerable to illegal fishing exploitation by foreign vessels with China, the European Union and Belize notable for illegally exploiting Nigerian waters.”

Fishing subsector, among other value chain in agriculture, holds huge economic potentials for the Country, but must be strategically and concertedly coordinated to optimise the productive value. The neglect and insensitive posture to take a grip over the habitats bearing the resources have left opportunists to seize the space for enclosed selfish purposes.

The agriculture sector at large is a behemoth one, bearing stretch of elaborate wings of sub-cultural operations according to the depths of available resources in the Country, which in their dynamic patterns demand critical and deliberate efforts to optimise their potentials.  Turning to develop the undermined subsections of the sector has become important.

To place agriculture at the height of virility to stand in close proximity to the productive yieldings of the oil sector, conscious efforts by policy and Investment interventions are sine qua non. The prevailing situations in the Country still speak of the infantile posture of several value chains in the sector. While the fish value chain is pronounced in terms of its infantile state, there are various others even along the categorisation of crops, which are largely under the deficits of productivity value. Key value yielding crops as cocoa, coconut, cashew, oil palm, cassava, and nuts, among others,  with huge economic potentials, are still within the profile of productivity deficits.

The value of exchange as accruable returns in terms of both domestic and foreign trade from these crops cannot be overemphasised, if robust value chains are developed along the productive lines. Hence giving representation to meaningful coordination of activities by structuring same through constructive framework is sacrosanct. Developing several industries from these lines of productions would be an outcome with huge economic potentials, sprouting to develop the agriculture sector as a seat of economic base driving growth and development of the Nigerian economy.

It is important for the Government to give priority to creative measures of coordinating efforts by policy constructions to attract investments in the various value chains obtainable from the agriculture sector. Policy construct to guide activities around the space of habitats where valuable resources are being tapped illegitimately without traceable returns to the coffers, is sacrosanct.  Since the Government cannot play it all, its role as a driver of process and actions to propel development, guide and moderate conducts must not suffer lag in the interest of the Country.