AfCFTA was created to expand intra-African trade and enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels by taking advantage of opportunities for scale production, continental market access, and better reallocation of resources. The National Action Committee on AfCFTA was set up to develop Nigeria’s strategy and mobilize all relevant public and private sector actors to mitigate food insecurity interventions that will prepare Nigerian businesses for the AfCFTA.
Agriculture is a priority sector in Africa, being a key driver for economic diversification. In Nigeria, agriculture remains the largest employer of labor, providing jobs for one-third of the population. “In the first quarter of 2020, agriculture contributed 21.69% of Nigeria’s GDP,” said Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Smallholder farmers account for 60–70% of production, and the program plans to provide mechanization services to these farmers for improved production, which will, in turn, improve the country’s economy.
In charting a way forward for the nation, the professionals discussed limiting factors in agriculture and trade in Nigeria. Toda Atsuko, representing Dr Adesina Akinwumi, President of African Development Bank (AfDB), identified some of the challenges limiting Africa’s agriculture from meeting up with its growing population, including low agricultural productivity, food insecurity and high cost of production. “Intra-African trade is growing but dominated by Southern and Eastern Africa; Nigeria needs to join in,” she said. Atsuko also mentioned that half of African trade is dominated by processed foods.
Discussing the opportunities available in agriculture for Nigeria and Africa at large, and how to leverage them to scale production and trade, Otunba Adebayo Adeniyi, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, mentioned that Nigeria is at an advantage because its market is a target for all countries of Africa, being the largest economy in the Continent. HE Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Governor of Kebbi State and Vice Chairman of the Food Security Council, mentioned that agriculture could be used to seal the free-trade agreement in Africa since it is a continent with many food-insecure people.
Aside from general farming, some specific aspects of agriculture were analyzed, including poultry and fishery. Implementation of the conclusions drawn from these discussions will result in an agricultural revolution that will strengthen security, improve the skills of farmers and the economy, as well as increase mechanised agriculture across Nigeria.