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The World Bank has disclosed that the growth of Nigeria’s agricultural sector is being pulled by the incessant attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram and herdsmen.

The global lender explained that insurgency undermines the policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which are intended to uplift farmers and help the sector attain its full revenue potential.

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It was also stated that the Agricultural sector in Nigeria is vast but the country experiences low production, affecting its returns. According to World Bank in its Nigeria Economic Update, crop production in the first half of 2019 was negatively impacted by attacks insurgency in the North-East region.

Insurgency affecting output: This attack is significant because crop production is responsible for 90% of agricultural output.

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“Agriculture, which constitutes a quarter of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and employs about half of the labour force, picked up slightly but remains below its potential.

“In the first half of 2019, crop production, which is responsible for 90 per cent of agricultural output, was affected by the ongoing insurgency in the North-East region and by farmer-herder conflicts in the North-Central region.

“Together, those regions produce a significant share of the country’s main crops, particularly grains (sorghum, millet, maize, and rice), beans, yams, cassava, potatoes, groundnuts, sesame, and soybeans.”

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It added that, “Agriculture is Nigeria’s largest employer, accounting for 40 per cent of its workers, but contributes just 25 per cent to GDP. Nigeria’s agricultural sector is vast, but productivity is low.

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“Nigeria’s agricultural sector is unusually large by sub-Saharan Africa standards, but the productivity of its labour is below the average for peer countries (South-Africa, India, Brazil and Indonesia).”

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Other factors dragging Agriculture down: The World Bank also indicated the contribution of poor infrastructure, inefficient land markets, limited access to finance.

“For the past 20 years, agricultural value-added per capita has risen by less than one per cent a year, and marginal yield is far below its potential.

“Most Nigerian farms are small, rain-fed rather than irrigated, with minimal physical capital.

“Agricultural value chains are underdeveloped due to poor infrastructure, inefficient land markets, limited access to finance, unreliable policy, and inadequate market information.

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“These conditions discourage investment and inhibit the uptake of new technologies, slowing productivity growth.”

Attacks affecting CBN intervention: Insurgency is preventing the intervention of the CBN to yield positive and necessary result. The CBN has tailored its policies to favour the farmers in order to aid their growth. One of the measures taken by CBN is preventing access to foreign exchange from Nigerian forex windows for agricultural commodities such as rice, vegetables, poultry, meat, and tomatoes.

The CBN has also financially intervened through Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme, the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing in Agricultural Lending programme, and the Anchor Borrowers Programme. However, these policies have been negatively impacted by the Boko Haram and herdsmen attack.

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What World Bank report means: In all, the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to achieve production self-sufficiency for some imported commodities, including rice, wheat, sugar, and palm oil seem unattainable with the incessant attacks.

This means President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to diversify the economy and provide substitutes for imported goods and food items would gradually fall apart except the insurgency is curbed.

Insurgency attack increasing poverty rate: The World Bank report also disclosed that the rate of poverty was increasing in Nigeria due to the insurgency.  It was made known that 49% of households in the North-East were affected by conflicts – more than 66% of which were reportedly caused by Boko Haram between 2010 and 2017.

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World Bank also reported that activities of nomads and insurgents also affected 25% of households in the North-Central region in the same period from 2010 and 2017.

“The vulnerability of those living below the poverty line is worsened by the adverse security situation in the North, which has displaced a large population that has amplified the high incidence of poverty in the North-East.

“Nine million Nigerian children are out of school, especially in the North-East where families were displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.”

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