Abuja (National Times) – Upon ascending power in 2014, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari immediately launched a war against the consumption of foreign products, commonly referred to Nigeria’s as “Oyibo things”. Today that war is bearing fruit as the country sees over 50% increase in rice production and millions of dollars in agricultural export.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari centred his 2014 Presidential Campaign on cleaning some of the widespread ills in the Nigerian economy, including reliance on the hydrocarbon, corruption, boosting the country’s security, and cutting down on Nigerian’s excessive reliance and consumption of “Oyibo things”, mostly agricultural products.
As part of his Agriculture Promotion Policy, his governmented on focused desgined instruments made agriculture a viable business, putting the sector central to the country’s long-term security.
While Buhari seems to have failed to address Nigeria’s appaling insecurity and eradicate corruption, two ills which the formerly General ostensibly took lightly, his government has made great strides in increasing Nigeria’s production of primary products, as well as cutting down on foreign exchange used in buying these products.
Most African economies were structurally designed to satisfy the needs of developed countries, which is an underlying trend in the North South relations, from colonial and post-colonial planners. Oil has been the mainstay of the Nigerian economy since the black gold was discovered in the country in the 1960s.
Because of the focus to produce for the west, most African governments fail to promote industries that produce for locals, such as the production of rice, tomatoes, fish, among other products.
That has not been the case with the Buhari’s government. Immediately after taking power, “President Buhari initiated the Home Grown Feeding Programme which is designed to put an end to importation and market monopoly of farm produce that can be grown here in our country which is a pilot vehicle to sustainable economic, agricultural, academic and job creation across the length and breadth of our nation”.
With the establishment of the Food Security Council, and the war against illegal importation of foreign products that can be farmed in Nigeria, Buhari has helped Nigeria to cut is foreign imports of basic commodities and boost the country’s foreign reserve.
According to Oxford Business Group, “Exports have maintained a steady upwards trajectory, and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reports that agricultural goods exports rose quarter-on-quarter by 54.9% in the fourth quarter of 2017 to N44.7bn ($144.5m), and year-on-year by 170.9%. Full-year agricultural exports rose by 180.7% over 2016 levels to hit N170.4bn ($550.9m).
Export performance indicators remained positive into 2018, and in May the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) reported that the free on board value of agricultural commodities shipped from Tin Can Island soared by 402.2% in the first quarter of 2018 to N29.2bn ($94.4m), with the total volume of exports jumping by 558.5% over the same period to 45,462 tonnes.
Musa Abdulahi, area controller of the NCS Tin Can Island command, reported that major exports during the first quarter of 2018 included rubber, hibiscus flower, cocoa butter, sesame seeds and frozen shrimp. The NBS reports that agricultural exports rose by 63.8% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter of 2018 to N73.24bn ($236.8m), representing a 24% increase year-on-year. Top agricultural exports included sesame seeds, at N26.7bn ($86.2m), fermented cocoa beans at N23.3bn ($75.3m) and raw cocoa beans at N6bn ($19.5m)”.
There are dozens of challenges still facing the agriculture sector in Nigeria, insecurity, poor power supply, porous borders that allow the importation of foreign rice and other products notwithstanding the controls, and a culture that prioritise foreign over domestic, but under Buhari Nigeria’s agricultural sector is seeing a new dawn, maybe Buhari is just doing the “Oyibo things” of promoting and protecting local producers.