We attempt to investigate the performance of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in the agriculture sector.
The end of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration will doubtless come with a lot of reflection. In what state did the outgoing administration leave the country? Better or worse? It is not uncommon for departing rulers to claim that the economic condition of the country improved under them, regardless of what the numbers say. That is to be expected. However, we prefer to parse through the data and review it with nuance and context.
Mustard Insight’s purview covers specific sectors which we feel are the major growth areas African countries should focus on going forward. We will attempt to examine the administration’s performance in these sectors, in terms of contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), and if possible, policy. We will use the metrics from the first quarter (Q1) of 2015, the last fiscal period before the onset of the Buhari administration, and we will have the first quarter of 2023 as the final period.
Agriculture: In terms of real GDP, Agriculture and its sub-sectors – Crop Production, Livestock, Forestry, and Fishing – contributed 19.79% to GDP. By Q1 2023, the sector contributed 21.66% to the nation’s GDP. The sector’s contribution reached as high as 26.46% in Q4 2022. Crop Production has emerged as the highest contributing sub-sector to the nation’s economy, which might mark a return to Nigeria’s agrarian roots.
There is the argument that the sector grew under the administration. Policy instruments such as the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) improved access to capital for smallholder farmers, with loans disbursed through recognised Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) such as Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs).
Available data which Mustard Insights have tracked show significant increases in the production of agricultural commodities such as rice and maize. The accuracy of data might vary from different sources, but maize production showed clear growth, rising from 10.1 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2015 to a 2019-high of 12.7 MMT. External shocks such as the Covid-19 epidemic, climate change effects, and insecurity will eventually affect production values. Despite all of these, the average annual maize production stood at 11.7 MMT, clearly exceeding the averages of previous administrations.
However, the contribution of Agriculture to the nation’s GDP, while it increased marginally during the administration, was weaker than that of previous administrations. The average contribution of the sector under President Buhari was 24.4%, higher than the oil-heavy administration of President Goodluck Jonathan at 21.8%, but less than President Obasanjo’s 27.5%.
The sector was greatly affected by inflation, with food prices steadily rising throughout the length of the administration. Issues with insecurity and natural disasters such as flooding affected much of the nation’s food belt. A lot of the sector’s issues can also be traced to the energy industry, with high prices of gasoline and diesel, valuable inputs in mechanized agriculture.
Fertilizer shortages were also common during the administration, despite attempts to boost production. The administration reached partnerships with Morocco for the supply of phosphate, in a bid to improve fertiliser blending capacity within the country. Within the last eight years, fertilizer blending plants in the country have increased from eight to over fifty. However, the country relies heavily on importation for potash, a key ingredient in fertilizer production. During the Russia-Ukraine War, potash supply was heavily disrupted as Nigeria imports the most from Russia.
Other issues ranged from poor road networks, which make it difficult to transport food around the country and insufficient infrastructure for storage, to low adoption of modern farming practices. Corruption also remained an issue, as smallholder farmers often spoke about a lack of access to funding, much of which the federal government claimed to have disbursed.