The Sasakawa-Global 2000 (SG2000) programme commenced in Nigeria in March 1992, following the signing of a partnership agreement with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (FMARNR) to work with federal and state agencies with the overarching objective to raise agricultural productivity and improve food crop marketing in the country.
Over the past 20 years, the growth of the programme has been impressive in terms of its spread and reach. For example within this period, Nigeria worked with more than 4,500 extension agents and 3 million smallholder farmers in the diffusion of improved crop varieties including wheat, maize, rice, cowpea, peanut, soybean, tomato, pepper, groundnut, millet, sorghum, sesame, cotton, and cassava technologies. The programme operates by working collaboratively with innovative farmers, to establish production-scale plots to demonstrate packages of improved technology for improved agricultural productivity and food crop marketing through improved access to seeds and seedlings, better fertilizer application methods and crop protection, as well as improved crop management methods through the administration of Management Training Plots (MTPs).
The Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) have been pivotal as enduring institutional platforms for anchoring the SG2000 Nigeria in the participating states under a well structured arrangement. It entails the participating ADPs assigning State and Zonal Coordinators and Extension Agents (EAs) to implement the jointly planned SG2000 field programs. The SG2000 supplements the in-service training of ADP staff that provides on-the-ground training to participating farmers. This is with a view to ensuring successful technology transfer, while assisting them in obtaining inputs and solving day-to-day problems affecting low food crop productivity.
The SG2000/ADPs mode of operation in disseminating improved agricultural technologies to farmers has made tremendous impacts in the extension services of the participating states and their ability to transfer technology packages for various crops, resulting in doubling and in some cases quadrupling farmers’ yield. The interventions of SG2000 have resulted in a widespread adoption of improved crop production technologies by over 500,000 small holder farmers in Adamawa, Kano, Gombe and Jigawa States. Capacity building of extension agents and farmers has been a major program priority and activity of SG 2000 since 1993. SAA/SG2000 is always practical, providing hands-on training in demonstrated agricultural technologies as have been offered in farmers’ fields and in the classroom. Currently, SAA/SG2000 promotes the use of Farmer Learning Platforms through which options in technologies are made available to farmers to study and learn from. Thus, the current SAA/SG2000 programme is holistic in approach, using commodity value-chain development strategies with the use of an effective Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning, and Sharing system.
Based on the outstanding records of successes by SAA/SG 2000, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), once again signed an MOU on the 8th of February, 2013 with SAA to support the implementation of the carefully planned Agricultural Extension Transformation agenda of the FMARD in some selected states of the federation. The arrangement is that the MoU will be effective for a period of five years, with the FMARD providing the needed funding while SG 2000 shall use its technical and administrative structure to implement the collectively agreed project activities. The intention of the MOU is to formalize a joint endeavor aimed at transforming agricultural productivity and production in Nigeria as a means of ensuring food security and better nutrition for the country, through extension services.
In 2014 a total of Two Hundred and Eighty Million Naira was released to SAA/SG 2000 for extension service delivery to six states of the federation, covering all the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. This intervention has directly touched on the lives of over sixteen thousand smallholder farmers by improving their production and productivity; indirectly touched more than double this figure. This partnership shall continue to its logical conclusion and shall be financially supported by the FMARD to cover the entire country.
One of the key lessons of the Sasakawa-Global 2000 (SG 2000) programme is that the small holder farmer is still an important player in increasing agricultural productivity in Nigeria. It underscores the fact that with both proper organization and the right support system, the small holder farmer can be significantly enabled to maximize his/her output towards the accomplishment of our national strategic objectives of ensuring self-sufficiency in our local staples and food security for the ever increasing national population, as well as ensuring the phenomenal growth of agro-exports for increased foreign exchange earnings.
The second lesson is the essence of forging collaboration and partnership among key stakeholders in the agricultural development value chain for the accomplishment of a common purpose. It underscores the reality that agricultural activity and programmes are best designed and executed along several boundaries of authorities with well-defined roles and responsibilities. This is especially important in Nigeria bearing in mind that we operate a federal system of government where the control of land is within the purview of state governments, and where the farmers are predominantly located. Any successful agricultural programme, therefore, must take cognizance of this governance reality if it is to be both sustainable and impactful.
The third lesson is that notwithstanding the success of the SC 2000 programme, it needs to be scaled- up significantly to attain a much wider scope, bearing in mind that the total number of farmers that have benefited from the programme over the decades pales into insignificance relative to those who are presently excluded from the scheme. I am aware that, presently, there may be severe constraints in widening the scope of the programme on the part of all the multi-stakeholders participating in the scheme. But, my humble opinion is that we can collectively look into the possibilities and explore all options towards scaling up the programme without necessarily incurring unbearable costs.
The fourth lesson is the importance of a virile extension system to enhancing agricultural productivity and competitiveness. In Nigeria, it underscores the need for us as a nation to revive the extension service system, which is almost getting moribund. Incidentally, a virile agricultural extension system used to be one of the pillars of our agriculture in the past. We are committed to reactivating it under the Buhari administration.
The fifth lesson is the importance of capacity building. The SG2000 programme succeeded largely because capacity was built consistently over time because the capacity-building component was recognized as an important element of programme success. This is worth re-stating as an objective contributory factor to success.
The sixth lesson- where I will draw the curtain at this stage, is that notwithstanding the key role that the smallholder farmer is still playing in supporting us to achieve food sufficiency and food security, we need the entry of big players in the agriculture industry to bring innovation, quality assurance, entrepreneurship, modern technology, finance, global good practices and expanded markets to radically improve the fortunes of this sector so that it can attract multiple players to drive it as a profitable business. This, invariably, means giving almost equal attention to both the smallholder and large scale/ commercial farmers as complementary and strategic role players in agricultural development.
The Green Alternative Roadmap Agriculture Promotion Policy, which we have just launched in Nigeria, has ingrained the lessons of the Sasakawa Programme in many significant ways. It is , first and foremost, a national strategy and an action plan that recognizes the need to harness the strengths and resources of all the multi-stakeholders in the agricultural and rural development sector towards effectively rebuilding and reinvigorating the sector as part of a comprehensive plan of achieving the diversification of the national economy from an oil dependent led growth.
The Green Alternative Roadmap, therefore, recognizes the key role of both the smallholder farmer and the large scale farmer in maximizing agricultural output, achieving increased efficiency of agricultural operations, systems and practices through private sector engagement, by entrusting the private sector with the role of the main growth driver of the agricultural sector. The private sector is also saddled with the responsibility of creating linkages with small holder farmers by availing them of better organization methods, technological access, financial services, linkages to input supply chains and markets, among others.
‘The Green Alternative Promotion Policy’- has five major strategic thrusts. First, is achievement of self-sufficiency and sustainable food security. Second, is reduction in import dependence and economic losses, particularly through value addition. Third, is stimulation of agro-exports for enhanced foreign exchange earnings. Fourth, is enhancement of wealth and job creation-especially the provision of employment opportunities for the teeming youth population in the country. Fifth, is achievement of economic diversification to make our economy less oil-dependent.
‘The Green Alternative’ rest on three pillars. First is Productivity Enhancements, comprising nine key components namely: access to land, soil fertility, access to information and knowledge, access to inputs, production management, storage, processing, marketing and trade and consumption and nutrition. The second pillar is Crowding in Private Sector Investment, entailing ensuring greater access to finance, promoting agribusiness and ensuring investment development. The third pillar is Institutional strengthening/Realignment of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (together with its Parastatals and Agencies). The six focal areas of interventions under this pillar are: institutional setting and roles, youth and women, infrastructure, climate smart agriculture, research and innovation and food and nutrition security.
A significant part of the desirable outcomes we seek to achieve under the Green Alternative roadmap cannot be achieved without factoring in some of the lessons of the SG2000. They include among others:
- crucial importance of quality seeds and seedlings to better yields and overall agricultural performance, hence emphasis on improving access to timely, high quality and price competitive inputs that are demand driven to all stakeholders in the agricultural value chain;
- right application of the right fertilizers on the right soils for the right crops, hence emphasis on tailored-made /appropriate fertilisers for each crop based on soil types rather than the general application of fertilisers for all soil types and crops in the past;
- promoting access to information and knowledge by developing agricultural information systems, standards and institutional mechanisms for content generation, policy support, stakeholders’ dialogue , innovation and learning;
- promoting mechanization- to scale up agricultural activities through promotion of private sector- led mechanization services; stimulating domestic production of agricultural machinery and spare parts; facilitating access to funding and promoting enhanced youth entry into agriculture through mechanization;
- promoting value chain approach through processing, investment, especially in infrastructure, e.g irrigation infrastructure and services, quality assurance and standards, provision of quality market information, enactment of new legislation, improved marketing and trade support, etc;
- improved land and land management-addressing constraints of land tenure, land access , especially gender-related encumbrances;
- improved extension system by creating one stop extension service centre in each of the 774 local governments in Nigeria, for the delivery of a wide range of services including mechanization, farm input supply, market information services, etc; promotion of a private sector-led extension system running concurrently with a public sector facilitated extension system driven by energized youth through massive recruitment of youths and volunteers;
- capacity building: realigning roles and building institutional and personal capacities across the agricultural industry and sector; and
- research and innovation-improving research funding, incentivizing research and promoting research-extension linkages.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the SG2000 has been impactful in Nigeria as I have highlighted in this address. I believe the Green Alternative Roadmap that we have just developed and launched in Nigeria provides us greater latitude to build on the gains of the programme and expand it to meet our compelling strategic national imperatives in the agricultural sector. But it will be helpful to scale up the SG2000 programme in Nigeria, to enable us meet the targets envisaged under the Green Alternative Roadmap. This, in a brief, is what I intend to share at this juncture until subsequently when I have the opportunity to provide further elaboration on these issues in the course of this symposium.
I thank you all for your kind attention.