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ADP’s collapse deepens farmers’ sufferings

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
26 June 2022   |   2:48 am
The collapse of the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) in Nigeria has been identified as the contributory factor to the woes of the sector in the recent past.

The collapse of the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) in Nigeria has been identified as the contributory factor to the woes of the sector in the recent past.

Launched in 1972, two years after the end of the civil war, the ADP is an agricultural development project, established to raise the productivity, income and standard of living of rural farmers in Nigeria.

Though it was launched in the Northern Nigerian towns of Gombe and Gusau with two pilot projects assisted by the World Bank, it has since spread across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The main objectives of the ADPs were to increase food production for rural dwellers and raise the income level of small-scale farmers by making provisions for improved seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, credit facilities and infrastructural facilities.

Other objectives include improving farmers’ access to and use of agricultural knowledge, technologies, marketing systems and infrastructure, for the purpose of contributing to higher productivity and profitability.

However, the project has failed to achieve the desired goals, though some positive results were recorded a few years after it was launched. The programme did not make a significant impact on the rural infrastructure, adoption of improved technologies and farm sizes, according to sector players,

For instance, some of the noticeable lapses in most of the ADPs in the states include – the dearth of extension workers; lack of credit facilities for farmers; and lack of attention from the government among others, which were hinged on the problem of poor funding.

It was also gathered that ADP offices in some of the states have become near moribund, while others have been turned to a mere government parastatal.

The Chief Executive Officer of Green Sahara Farms, Suleiman Dikwa, attributed the woes of the programme to the diversion of funds to other sectors and the general malaise in the civil service.

He said the domination of agricultural activities by political and personal vested interest in terms of funds available to the sector led to decisions to hijack the functions of the ADPs by both actors within the civil service and the political arm.

Dikwa said: “We have to look at this from the perspective of our agricultural policies and to wit, as a means of eradicating poverty. The ADP is supposed to be the foundation of the agro-industry, especially in the transfer of knowledge and access to intervention by farmers either through education or facilitation.

“Extension services is key to sustainable agro practices instead of investing or our policy direction taking the ADP role into account parallel institutions through various agencies and schemes were set up without the key component of the ADPs.

“They became dependent on interventions by various development agencies to be relevant. Among other things without the ADPs it’s difficult to access credible data or sustainable development of the sector.”

He lamented that the comatose state of the ADPs has led to poor returns, and limited and unsustainable sectors despite the massive investment in the past.

“By its role, the ADP would have ensured the sustainability of the projects due to the monitoring and response, productivity and market inclined functions. The current limited success is driven by funds availability and not knowledge.”

To revive the programme, Dikwa said a paradigm shift is required, noting that the multifunctional and conflicting agencies created by various administrations are overhead centres that need to be scrapped.

“The ministry of agriculture and the ADPs are well-positioned to deliver their mandate due to their reach and action on the ground. They have the ability that other financial and developmental agencies do not have or possess.

“They are in a position to work on the ground in communities and bring knowledge and capital to the rural farmers who are the majority.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Oreka Farms Limited, Obafemi Owode Local Council, Ogun State, Bose Ruth Suberu, expressed dissatisfaction that the lofty goals of the ADPs couldn’t be realised.

She asserted that the inability to get farm inputs had brought about low yield, having little or no knowledge of good agronomic practices, which have also contributed to their poor performance, adding that most of the rural farmers have no access to improved seeds for good yield nor machinery, as most of the farm settlements scheme is not active.

“The disappearance of ADP has worsened the agric sector in the country. It has caused more hunger, increased poverty, and more crime as youths, who are supposed to be farming have no support and have no choice but to source for other means of survival.

“The only way to revive ADPs is to fund it, support rural farmers with modern farming technologies, seeds, loans, grants and train farmers on GAP,” she said.

But the Founder of Menitos Farms, Lagos, Tolulope Daramola, has a counterview. According to her, “ I don’t think, there was ever poor funding. Record has shown that the funds were disbursed to appropriate bodies. The issue was disbursement channels to the farms and farmers. 

“I would cite an example of a loan facility I applied for in 2019 and got at the end of 2021, by which time prices were doubled or even tripled. On top of that, they decided to give me items I had already gotten after making the initial application in 2019.

“So, now I have capacity to process at least 1,000 birds weekly but can’t even afford the birds to process, especially when you add the almost non-existent power supply situation.”

To address the problem, Daramola said grants, loans and resources would be on a need basis and not a cap fits all. “Imagine right now, I could do with a cutter, a blast freezer or an inverter, but most programmes would give a freezer which I already have three or a generator which I already have two. It is important to work on the disconnect between actual needs and assumed needs of local farmers. 

“Then, the programme needs to decide if they are targeted at micros or medium SMEs. Asking a micro business to meet certain requirements would automatically eliminate the struggling or startups that need the capital. We need to remember that most micro businesses are valued at under N1m in capital and turnover, while companies valued at N5m also fall under the SME category. Otherwise, they end up expanding medium enterprises, while claiming to be growing micro-businesses. This is a very critical area that affects the selection criteria of ADPs and who actually gets to benefit.

“A microprocessor would be selling chicken and upgrade to the frozen chicken while a medium processor would most likely use the input to add value and as such become a costlier brand. What has been achieved is to move that business out of the reach of its initial market into an elite market with premium packaging et al, which is not a problem but is that the goal of the ADP?”