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Federal Minister of Agriculture, Adesina




I REALLY did not want to write this piece against Dr. (Akinwumi) Adesina. I have never met him but I have a fundamental difficulty with Dr. Adesina, and one or two others who worked for President Goodluck Jonathan.

Intellect must always be used to promote progress, never to self flagellation. It must not be used as a hired gun.

Dr. Adesina and I have a number of common friends who have been most vocal in praising his intellect, and they have further told me that the agricultural revolution going on in the country at the moment is a product of Dr. Adesina’s initiative.

His praise singers tell me he has brought sanity to the whole fertilizer business – that farmers now get the fertilizer they need.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), job for which he is now being proposed really has nothing to do with his agricultural accolades which include, I am told, the introduction of cassava to the making of bread in Nigeria. Other achievements include the increase in production of rice etc. – quite an impressive Curriculum Vitae.

Except I am not sure, not a single fact mentioned above is measurable in actual terms. Every farmer knows how many tubers he plants, year after year. So where are our figures for the increase in yam production? Or cassava production? There is no end to the billions of Naira spent by the Ministry of Agriculture, what we do not have is one single statistic.

For example, we were told during the days of Dr. Adesina’s control of Agriculture that Nigeria imported 25% less rice in one year and this fact was immediately translated to mean we were growing more rice. As I write, there is not a single figure of actual production of agricultural products, measured over time, that we can attribute to the Minister.

Towards the end of last year there was a massive propaganda on aqua culture. I know that a lot of Nigerians now grow cat fish but that came from the Ministry of Agriculture. I am certain it did not.

This is a country that grew cotton, maize, millet, and many other crops. Where are the warehouses and silos full of agriculture production? Indeed where is the policy to encourage people to return from the city to the farm? How do we get people out of poverty if they do not grow out of it?

Is it fruits that we grow more of? Which ones and by how much? The propaganda towards the end of the regime of President Jonathan on both the agriculture and industry – they linked them up, not me – that the more you grow, you could then go into food processing, etc.

Worse of all, there was this silly idea about the purchase of 600,000 handsets for farmers. I have heard of daft schemes but that takes the cake. How can anyone live that down?

“Farmers have been introduced to the use of GSM in other countries. This is usually preceded by months of training on radio, town and village meetings to familiarize the farmers with the new software applications already in the specially built GSMs for farmers. Did Dr. Adesina gifts have special apps for farmers and the establishment of dedicated platforms for farmers? I saw no such campaign in Dr. Adesina’s programme for farmers.

What gets me is that men of intellect when asked to espouse obvious political stupidity should be courageous enough to let their intellect shine through.

What can we really say of Dr. Adesina’s achievements? Can we honestly say that the billions spent in agriculture were justified? I cannot say so – and this is why Nigeria has not progressed. We need to produce more, we had an intellect able to deliver this and what do we get?

I am sorry to mess up another Nigerian, about to get a good United Nations job. I cannot help it. Oh, by the way, cassava bread was developed in the University of Ife over 30 years ago.

• Ambassador Cole (OFR) is a Consultant to The Guardian Editorial Board.

  • emmanuel kalu

    i fear this article might just be a case of envy or something else. lets start with the rice. you don’t need to see actual numbers of rice production. we are importing less rice, that is a measurable data. the gains of agriculture can’t immediately be measured in how much you produce, in terms of nigeria. it is about shifting that gear back toward it. agricultyre is now attracting more investment, more people are being employed, research is now increased, farmer are getting better seeds and have more markets to sell their productis. too many times in nigeria people constantly fault the peopel that i have done something. we need to encourage them and push them to do more. if this agri minster ends the importation of rice, it would have being a good term.

  • Eroms

    I totally agree with your comments Patrick Dele Cole. For the agricultural sector growth to be measured it is not based upon fictions but facts we need a situation analysis/analytic study of such a sector.Every country in the world does such studies.
    This will enable us understand in full details the contribution of the different agricultural commodity to GDP and the economy at large.The competitive and comparative advantage of such a commodity can also be measured.

  • Oluwaseyi IFELAJA

    Walk with the wise and be wise… I quote that to say this to the writer of that article. You truly might not have seen what dr. Adesina achieved but some have claimed that they have. I suggest you find out from them. I rekon that Dr. Adesinas tenure has not being without challenges from politicians and constitutional flaws but I believe He did the best he could under the circumstances and I don’t expect that to be good enough for all. One of what I consider one of his greatest achievement is the pushing for policies that will address Agriculture Risk Management effectively…though we have not begun to see the result of that but like many other gains that will come with the things he was able to do, they are not immediate. The most of all lip service to Agriculture was not the order during the good Dr.’s tenure in office as more people did engage in Agricultural production and other value chain activities of crops ranging from Cassava, Rice, Acquaculture and much more. How did I know?…I worked for some of them as Agribusiness Management consultant…we restructure business models, financing, processes and so on. Also help some acquire land for these projects and help some sell lands to pay-off bank loans that was stagnating their going concern. All this was possible because we trusted that change had come and s ongoing. The next minister must do better and he has our support to do better.

  • Oluwaseyi IFELAJA

    Also like to say that for the figures and statistics you seek I suggest you use search engines more creatively…and even though we have never had the Fed. Board of Statistic fully efficient or effective in this regard, you can get some from them too.

  • Sunshine

    Mr Adesina left a benchmark and yardstick for in coming ministers. He was one minister who did his job with passion with skills and abilities he has acquired over the years. Well done sir. Nigeria will be a beautiful place if people who come to power play their parts like you did. You are a shinning star.

  • Maigari

    A very precise and factual critique of what was wrong with Agriculture in Nigeria. Yes, Dr. Adesina has a very formidable CV and media team, they kept us focused on nothing. I am a farmer and even with the rains close, fertiliser is still a myth except we buy from the black-market, very few access the so-called GSM fertiliser.
    As to crops production, yes we grow but the collapse of the prices has really affected the farmers many sell grains like rice, maize and sorghum at a loss. As for groundnuts we have stopped because of the massive importation of vegetable oil that makes the locally produced oil too cheap to break even for the farmers. He may have riased production on NTA but the relity with the low income farmers is a double misery all round.