How The Ministry Of Agriculture And Rural Development Has Fared In The Last 4 Years: The Achievements And Failures Of Audu Ogbeh

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is a ministry of the Nigerian government that regulates agricultural research, agriculture and natural resources, forestry and veterinary research throughout Nigeria. Audu Innocent Ogbeh is the current Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. He was appointed to head the ministry by president Muhammadu Buhari in November 2015.

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The ministry is responsible for various parastatals. It supervises and provides funding for research institutes such as the National Root Crops Research Institute and colleges of agriculture and forestry. The vision of the Ministry is to grow Nigeria’s agricultural sector. Specifically, to “achieve a hunger-free Nigeria through an agricultural sector that drives income growth, accelerate achievement of food and nutritional security, generate employment and transform Nigeria into a leading player in global food markets to grow wealth for millions of farmers.”

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Primarily funded by the Federal Government, the ministry currently superintends almost fifty parastatals operating as either key departments or agencies across the country. The Ministry has 2 major departments namely Technical and Service Departments. The Technical Departments comprise of Agriculture (Trees and Crops), Fisheries, Livestock, Land Resources, Fertilizer, Food Reserve & Storage and Rural Development. While the Service Departments comprise Finance, Human Resources, Procurement, PPAS (Plan, Policy, Analysis & Statistics) and Co-operatives.

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Audu Innocent Ogbeh, who is the current Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development was born on 28th July 1947 in Benue State. He is a Nigerian politician who was chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from 2001 until January 2005. Ogbeh is also known for his literary works. He has written five plays which include three published works. One of his plays, the Epitaph of Simon Kisulu was staged at Muson Center in 2002.

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Ogbeh attended King’s College, Lagos (1967 – 1968), then studied at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1969 – 1972) and the University of Toulouse, France (1973 – 1974). He lectured at the Institute of Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1972 – 1976) and headed the Department of Humanities, Murtala College of Arts, Science and Technology (1977 – 1979). In 1979 he ran for office in the Benue State House of Assembly on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), becoming deputy speaker of the house. In 1982 he was appointed Federal Minister of Communications, and later became Minister of Steel Development. His term of office ended in December 1983 when a military coup brought Major-General Muhammadu Buhari to power.

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In 2001 he was appointed National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), replacing Chief Barnabas Gemade. He held this position until January 2005, when he was forced to resign due to his criticism of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s handling of a crisis in Anambra State. Talking to reporters, however, Ogbeh claimed that he resigned only to avoid conflict within the party, and due to a desire to return to farming.

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Starting in 2010-2011, the Government of Nigeria, after years of benign neglect, began to reform the agriculture sector. To refocus the sector, the Government during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first tenure implemented a new strategy (the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA) built on the principle that agriculture is a business and therefore the policy should be about supporting it. The main priority of the policy was to “restart the clock” and reintroduce the Nigerian economy to sustainable agriculture centered on business-like attitude driven by the private sector.

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That strategy was in place from 2011 – 2015. The ATA was a good platform to re-engage key stakeholders in Nigerian agriculture to shift focus towards how a self-sustaining agribusiness focused economy could be built. The ATA focused on how to make Nigeria’s agriculture more productive, efficient and effective. It set a target of creating 3.5 million jobs by 2015 generating foreign exchange and reducing spending on food imports. Among its key achievements was a restructuring of the federal fertilizer procurement system.

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Achievements of the Agricultural Sector under the Buhari Administration

Fortunately, the Buhari administration has been able to achieve most of its agenda for the agricultural sector. Some of its achievements between 2015 and 2018 are the anti-corruption drive of the president which put to a halt the exogenous leakages in the Agricultural sector to encourage, empower, and enhance the locally made farm produce thereby increasing our internally generated revenue (IGR) index and foreign exchange capacity and reserve to over $45 Billion in cash and bonds.

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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. The Standing Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Zero-Reject of Agricultural Commodities and Produce / Non-oil Exports in Nigeria was inaugurated.mNigeria has benefited from the 13.1billion Euros honeybee project. The Buhari administration has also commenced steps improving the standards of Nigeria’s agricultural exports to align with global standards due to the rejection of our produce at the EU Border Controls. These are very few out of the many feats the administration has achieved in the agricultural sector within a short space of time. Read more https://www.buharisachievements.com/site/achievements-of-president-muhammadu-buhari-in-agricultural-sector/

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Achievements of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development under Audu Ogbeh

Towards the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first tenure, the president expressed satisfaction with the achievement recorded in the country’s Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development headed by Dr. Audu Ogbeh, the honourable Minister. The President said his grouse however, is that the media did not give his administration the credit for the agricultural revolution and other achievements being recorded by the Audu Ogbeh led Ministry of Agriculture. “I’m very disappointed in the Nigerian press. They didn’t give this government the credit of the “Go back to the land” programme. We have cut down the importation of rice by at least 90 per cent,” the President said.

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He noted that many Nigerians were abandoning white collar jobs daily and embracing farming because of his government’s reform programme in the sector. Under Ogbeh’s watch, Buhari also said Nigeria had achieved food security, one of the major stake in any developing country. He justified his appointment of Chief Audu Ogbeh as the Minister of Agriculture, saying the appointment was based on Ogbeh’s antecedents. He said the nation could not have had a better person to oversee the Ministry than Ogbeh whom he said had invested so much in agriculture and had also suffered.

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“Ogbeh went to a bank, borrowed money and invested in agriculture. He suffered but eventually, he paid the money. So, you cannot have a better person than somebody who has suffered in the sector,” he said. The President blamed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for allegedly wasting the commonwealth of Nigerians during the 16 years the party was in power at the federal level. He reiterated his position that there was nothing to show for the huge resources that accrued to the country during the period. He also queried the $16bn said to have been expended on the power sector during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

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Challenges and Failures of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

One of the major challenges of the Nigerian agricultural sector is the food security crisis. Nigeria has the ambition of diversifying her economy from crude petroleum dependency but the country is facing a looming food security crisis with a growing population becoming increasingly dependent on imported foods. At the same time, the once dominant subsistence-oriented farm economy is at risk of gradual marginalization. Insecure land tenure, scarcity of funds and credit, labour scarcity, despite overall high unemployment and stagnant technology have crippled its further development. Until today, a wide range of policies, programmes and projects have had limited impact in ameliorating these problems. Given the choice, young people from the rural areas rather try their luck in urban centres.

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The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh revealed at a convocation lecture in 2017 that one of the major issues the country is facing is hunger (food insecurity). He stated that, “In spite of the fact that all human societies have been divinely endowed with the ability to produce all the varieties of food required for human sustenance, hunger is still a recurring decimal, and an on-going global phenomenon.”

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He further revealed that “In the case of Nigeria, the World Food Programme (2016) provided some interesting details about the food situation in the country, which are instructive, including the reality that we are a food deficit nation, and Africa’s largest importer of rice (until recently with the remarkable progress we have made to curb rice importation through local production); that one third of children under five years in the Country are stunted, twice the rate in Thailand and thrice the rate in Tunisia; a disturbing incidence of increased rates of both child and adult obesity; and that 48.5% of our women of reproductive age are anemic.”

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“By the UN’s projection, the current dietary consumption patterns will continue on the same rising population trajectory. Feeding the more than 9 billion projected world population by 2050 will, therefore, entail producing more food in the next 40 years. This is even more compelling for Nigeria given the fact that the UN has projected that we will be the third most populated country in the world by 2050. These present clear lines of opportunities for us hence the need to start taking adequate measures in the short, medium and long terms to feed the explosion of population which is already in our hands and the thunderbolt which we are anticipating especially from year 2040 through year 2050.”

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In other words, the ministry and administration has failed to effectively work on the production of adequate food that would go round and feed the entire nation, which is why the nation is still faced with a hunger (food insecurity) challenge. Though obviously, this cannot be achieved within a short period of time. It’ll take a long space of time, more human resources (more people) in the agricultural sector and more machineries, which is why the ministry and the government are encouraging Nigerians, especially youths, to delve into agriculture which would in turn bring about an increase in food production in the country.

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Looking at the achievements of the honorable minister, Audu Ogbeh and the general achievements of the sector under the Buhari administration, and weighing them with its failures and challenges, one would rightly say President Buhari appointing Ogbeh as the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development was a good idea and a great decision just like the president himself admitted and reiterated as seen above. Therefore, giving Dr. Audu Ogbeh another chance as minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Buhari’s second tenure wouldn’t be a bad idea and certainly it is something the president wouldn’t mind considering.

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