Richard Downie

Per Second News—A new report by the U.S Center for Strategic and International Studies, (CSIS) Tuesday revealed that the federal government’s ban on 41 items is costing Nigeria thousands of jobs and hurting its economic recovery.

Richard Downie“Economic decisions such as the placing of an import ban on 41 products—many of them foodstuffs—have done more harm than good because they have not been accompanied by serious efforts to stimulate domestic production, according to the fresh report, titled “Growing the Agriculture Sector in Nigeria.”

“The rising cost of consumer goods that has resulted from these policies has had the effect of taking money out of the hands of smallholder farmers that they might otherwise have used for agricultural investment.

In a chat with Per Second News Tuesday, author of the report Richard Downie, wonders why the government placed the ban.

“ It doesn’t make sense to introduce an import ban unless you accompany it with powerful incentives that allow domestic producers to seize the opportunity. So, the impact of the ban is merely to discourage investors at a time when the Nigerian economy really needs them, he said.

The report which is part of the global food security project said that the best way for the Buhari led government to show its commitment to transforming agriculture would be to put conditions in place to incentivize farmers and processors, attract investment, and increase competitiveness.

“Policy consistency and predictability are particularly important. It should then step out the way to allow the private sector to take the lead, assuming a regulatory role instead. “

“The prominence of agriculture in the APC manifesto created high expectations that the Buhari administration would take swift action. Instead, it took a full year for the new government to make a significant policy announcement. When it finally came, in June 2016, the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) sensibly emphasized the importance of continuing and building upon the efforts of the previous administration. However, while the APP provided a lengthy and convincing analysis of the problems in the agriculture sector, the solutions it proposed were short on detail.”

The report also acknowledged federal government’s promising approach in the sector, “Nigeria is a large and diverse country that defies easy characterization. While it is true that the agriculture sector is underperforming and that good policies often fail to translate into good practice, there are plenty of ongoing activities and potential projects—both at the federal and state levels—that offer reason for optimism. “

The CSIS is a U.S Think-Tank, that has worked for over 50 years to develop solutions to the world’s greatest policy challenges. Today, CSIS scholars are providing strategic insights and bipartisan policy solutions to help decision makers chart a course toward a better world.

CSIS is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center’s large network of affiliated scholars conduct research and analysis and develop policy initiatives that look into the future and anticipate change.

The report, based on interviews with farmers, technical experts, and business entrepreneurs in Nigeria, details roadblocks to increasing agricultural productivity and profiles promising new initiatives in both the public and private sectors. It also provides actionable policy recommendations on what the United States should consider to help the Nigerian government transform the agricultural sector.

Richard Downie is deputy director and a fellow with the CSIS Africa Program, as well as a consultant for the CSIS Global Health Policy Center.


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