UNDP to continue supporting Nigeria in changing the agricultural landscape

Nov 12, 2015

On behalf of the UNDP Resident Representative – Opia Kumah and the Country Director – Pa Lamin Beyai, I am delighted to be here with you this morning. We as UNDP recall that just about two months ago we witnessed the launching of the Agribusiness Inter-Ministerial (AIM) Working Group at the inaugural Annual General Meeting of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG).

We are therefore particularly excited today by the Ministry’s convening of this priority investors and the AIM Working Group in order to work together with the NABG to accelerate turning the reported investment commitments for the Agricultural Transformation Agenda into concrete investments that can and will contribute to the national development priorities that lead to a meaningful impact on the lives of the people of Nigeria.

The goal is simple, to create jobs, opportunities and to lift millions of smallholder farmers and households out of poverty, inequality and exclusion by transforming productive capacities; particularly for the burgeoning unemployed youth and marginalized groups in Nigeria.

Over the past four years Nigeria has noted some progressive and innovative initiatives to transform the agricultural landscape for the better, and the role of private sector investments cannot be overemphasized in working towards this goal. With the very reflective and consultative process documented in Nigeria’s MDG End-point Report and the recent adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, we are all aware that building resilience and ensuring better protection against economic, social and environmental shocks is an important part of any national strategy to achieve the simultaneous eradication of poverty and reduction of inequalities and exclusion.

Ensuring the active participation and commitment of all stakeholders is the only way we can yield results for the benefit of the people. The Grow Africa 2015 preliminary report shows private sector investment engagement is an integral part of taking this aspiration forward. With commitments of over NGN 900 billion and expended investments at over NGN 200 billion in just two years, we need to work together to strengthen our data collection and evidence-based approaches to showcase the actual impact of these efforts on peoples’ lives to be replicated by other African countries.

We therefore applaud the Government of Nigeria in its efforts to engage the private sector as the engine of growth and economic diversification. We are confident that with this renewed vigour and commitment, Nigeria will soar to new heights in turning investment commitments into real investments at a faster conversion rate to ensure a meaningful impact for the benefit of the people.

As much as we record our achievements and results, we must also learn from any shortcomings and challenges. The nascent systems of coordination and inconsistency of policies, regulations, laws and administrative practices – which are as cited key challenges - must become a thing of the past if Nigeria is to maintain its enviable leadership position in Africa’s agricultural transformation.

We as UNDP remain committed to work in collaboration with development partners in doing our part to support this changing agricultural landscape in Nigeria. Our technical assistance programme of support to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), funded in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), has yielded catalytic results through our embedded Technical Advisors.

This has assisted in supporting and enhancing the institutional capacity of the Federal Ministry in the areas of Agribusiness, Knowledge Management, Policy, and Organizational Management in partnership with and from leveraging other support through partners such as USAID, World Bank, and other global institutions.

To accomplish the set goal of accelerated conversion of commitments into real investments, the AIM Working Group must be equipped on Agribusiness investment facilitation. We are committed to continue to support this effort through the FMARD and also recognize the importance of working directly with the State Governments to strengthen the private sector response and engagement.

We are working closely with our Regional Service Centre for Africa based in Addis Ababa to provide the necessary technical support and global partnerships to strengthen this continued support in a sustainable and results based approach. Furthermore, the development and implementation of the multi-stakeholder Knowledge Management framework this year is capacitating FMARD and partners in the public and private sector in accessing and sharing knowledge. This is essential for addressing the earlier identified constraints with coordination and boosting innovation and learning.

I would be remiss not to conclude by thanking the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for their leadership and guidance on this partnership.

Therefore, on behalf of the UNDP Resident Representative and Country Director, we congratulate the new Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, whom we trust will continue to guide us all to do our best to contribute to Nigeria’s development agenda in growing agriculture and agribusiness in Africa for the benefit of its people.

(Delivered by Mandisa Mashologu, Deputy Country Director - Programmes)

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