By Asmau Ahmad
Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has emphasised the importance of creating sustainable environment for investment opportunities in Agriculture to strive in Africa to achieve food security in the continent.
Tinubu said this at the High-Level Meeting on “Attracting investments in Land Restoration, Food Systems, and Rural Transformation in Africa.”
It was organised by the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) Nigeria on side-lines of the 78th session of UN General Assembly in New York.
The the event was organised by AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria Secretariat in collaboration with its counterpart AUDA-NEPAD Continental.
The event was aimed at exploring innovation solutions, investment opportunities, and partnerships to enhance productivity, resilience, and sustainable in African agriculture, focusing on smallholder farmers.
Tinubu, who was represented by Senator Abdulaziz Yar’dua, Chairman, Senate Committee on Nigerian Army, stressed the need for smallholders’ farmers in Nigeria and the continent at large to access financing to boost farming.
Tinubu also lamented the impact of poor governance and insecurity on agriculture in the continent.
“In Africa today one of the biggest factors inhibiting agricultural practices is the issue of poor governance by our fellow states, which has taken its toll on so many developments in Africa.
“It’s important to highlight this point because most of the inhibiting factors I believe are manifestation of this poor governance.
“And this has led to conflicts and political instability in most of the Africa or some of the African countries.
“These regions that are affected by these conflicts and political instability, of course, cannot be said to be able to have any agricultural activities, because this will disrupt it and it will lead to food insecurity,’’ he said.
According to him, the other critical factor is the issue of climate change, noting that Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change, as it brings unpredictable weather patterns, prolonged droughts and flooding.
“Other factors are land degradation, limited access to financing. If we look at some of the African countries, a case of Nigeria, the small rural farmers and farming communities in the rural areas do not have access to financing.
“We have 774 local government areas in Nigeria and I think just a little over 300 of the local governments which you call counties here have bank branches.
“So even the financial institutions in Nigeria are not able to cover all the local government areas we have.
“So is quite difficult for the rural farmer who will have to travel sometimes one to 200 kilometres to be able to access finance. So, this is a very big problem.”
The Nigerian leader, however, expressed optimistic that the gathering would create opportunity to brainstorm on ways to help rural communities and farmers to get access to finance.
Another big issue, he said, was the issue of infrastructure gaps, noting that some of the rural farmers do not have good access roads to evacuate their produce to the markets.
“And technology of course is another factor. There is a need to have technology adoption which is limited in nature in most of the rural communities.
“Then we have the issue of policy and regulation by government. You have inconsistencies in policies and some of the African countries as it affects, land tenure, land reformation, agriculture itself.
“We also have the issue of cumbersome regulatory processes, which can also include international finance institutions to come in and assist in agricultural production in most of the African countries.”
President Tinubu, however, said that those challenges could degrade and reduce agricultural practices, especially in most African countries and urged the participants to step up efforts to address them.
Similarly, Chief Executive Officer AUDA-NEPAD, Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas spoke on addressing some the challenges by coordinating all the available resources in the continent.
According to her, coordination is critical and all the countries in Africa should work together, adding that working together will make a difference while fragmented effort will not help.
In addition, Bekele-Thomas said it was important to expand the economy through agriculture and remove restrictions to assessing financing for smallholder farmers.