On 31st January, 2017, the Nigerian Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) in collaboration with The Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) and the Dutch Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development (INCLUDE) organised a one day stakeholder’s forum on employment creation in agriculture and agro-processing in the context of inclusive growth in Nigeria. This marked the first major activity of the Utafiti Sera project in Nigeria.
The forum brought together 47 key stakeholders in the agriculture and agro-processing industries, the academia, policy makers, practitioners, international civil society and other active players in the economy to discuss the findings and policy recommendations of the study on ‘Political Settlements Analysis of Employment Creation in Agriculture and Agro-Industries in Nigeria’.
The study, which was facilitated by PASGR and carried out by a group of researchers led by Dr Aremu Fatai, focused on the rice and cotton sectors.
The study found that the sectors were characterised by competitive clientelistic political settlements where there isn’t large coalition of interest groups that share the long term vision of the state to support local production and create jobs, but rather individual interests. In both sectors the influence of importers are a major blockage to employment creation, as small holder farmers are crowded out by imports leading to collapse of rice mills and textile factories.
The study informed the presentations at the forum. The first presentation focused on the findings of the study as well as existing literature on employment creation in the agriculture sector in Nigeria, while the second was a presentation on transforming domestic private investment in the rice and cotton value chains to promote employment creation.
Following the presentations and discussions, the house was divided into three discussion groups. Group I discussion was centred on the ‘Consolidation of institutions and resources in the agriculture sector for employment creation’, while the debate on ‘Gender and Youth inclusiveness in wage employment in the agricultural value chain’ was assigned to Group II. Group III deliberated on ‘reducing the importation of agricultural products and turning importers to producers for employment creation’.
From the discussions, the Utafiti Sera house in Nigeria resolved to pursue four issues with regards to the promotion of employment and inclusiveness in the agriculture value chain. They include:
- Monitoring and evaluation of agriculture budget for job creation;
- Operationalization of youth in agri-business policy;
- Promoting industrial clusters;
- Addressing gender disparity in wage employment.
As a way forward, these issues will inform further discussions with key members of the Nigerian Senate, House of Representatives, and the Executives in three Breakfast meetings.