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‘Economic freedom for smallholder farmers, others key to peaceful Nigeria’

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
21 November 2021   |   1:31 am
Adoption of sound macro-economic policies that guarantee economic freedom for farmers, pastoralists and small entrepreneurs, has been identified as pre-condition for peace and stability in Nigeria.


Adoption of sound macro-economic policies that guarantee economic freedom for farmers, pastoralists and small entrepreneurs, has been identified as pre-condition for peace and stability in Nigeria.

The former Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn, who said this during the recent Nigerian Economic Summit (NES27), in Abuja, said the experience from Ethiopia and elsewhere in East Asia is an indication that the shift can easily be emulated during deep national economic crisis which is the case in most of the countries in the continent.

Dessalegn, who doubles as Board Chair, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), who spoke at a session with the theme: “Building a Secure Nigeria: Key Priorities for Economic Growth and Inclusion,” shed light on the economic, political and governance imperatives for repositioning Nigeria on the path to economic, social, political, environmental, and physical safety.

Also on the panel are Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu; Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Dr. Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; Chairman, Presidential Economic Advisory Council, Dr. Adedoyin Salami; President and Chairman of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah; Managing Partner of Sahel Consulting and AACE Foods, Mrs. Ndidi Nwuneli; and AGRA Board Member. Mrs. Eugenia Abu, who moderated the session.

He suggested that sound macro economic policy, firstly, is a precondition for economic growth, adding that economic freedom, at least for smallholder peasant farmers including pastoralists and small scale entrepreneurs, is the other variable associated with positive turning points.

Dessalegn said: “This calls for courageous decisions, particularly investing in pro-poor, pro-rural public spending. I would argue, therefore, sustained and shared growth with rapid poverty reduction takes place when, and only when, all three policy preconditions namely, sound macro-economic management, economic freedom, and pro-poor, pro-rural public spending policy pre-conditions have simultaneously been met.

“Our Agricultural Development Led Industrialisation policy has created a conducive situation to address the problem of mass poverty, given most of the population lived in country side and depended for their livelihood in agriculture, by raising farm incomes.”

Citing the example of his country, he said the state led rural and agricultural development, sustained and shared growth and poverty reduction from 44 per cent to 20 per cent in nearly two decades is also associated with two other essential policies and preconditions.

“Ethiopia has given the highest priority to promoting inclusive agricultural transformation by means of allocating at least 17 per cent of its annual budget to invest in irrigation, extension services by deploying around 60,000 extension agents and agricultural research for improved and climate resilient crop varieties.

“In addition credit facilities, subsidisation of inputs such as fertilizer and improved seeds were readily available. Market infrastructure for the produces is facilitated. Storage facilities, rural roads construction and rural electrification have taken the major portion of the investment. In contrast in many African countries including Nigeria agriculture and rural development was largely neglected after independence. This is clearly seen from the proportion of national budget allocated for the sector which in most cases below five per cent.”

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