The Federal Government has said that the establishment of the Community of Practice (CoP) by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) will enhance strategic priorities and ensure effective policy implementation of agricultural policies and programmes across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.
Speaking during the inaugural CoP meeting for state commissioners of agriculture, in Abuja, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Shehuri, said the CoP initiative would be vested with the oversight responsibility for ensuring effective policy implementation in the agricultural sector in line with policy best practices.
He pointed out that though the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) is the highest policy-making body for agriculture and rural development in the country, the absence of a definitive follow-up of decisions taken during the yearly NCARD meeting contributes to policy inconsistency and perennial policy failure in the sector.
He stressed the need for a complementary body such as CoP as a support for the effective and efficient interaction and close monitoring of agricultural policy process as decided by NCARD has arisen.
Shehuri added that the ministry has the mandate to ensure food security in crops, livestock and fisheries, stimulate agricultural employment and services, promote the production and supply of raw materials to agro-industries, provide markets for the products of the industrial sector, generate foreign exchange and aid rural socio-economic development.
The minister said in pursuit of these mandates the ministry has, over the years, articulated and implemented numerous agricultural policies, programmes and projects.
Successful programming and implementation of the previous policies can be attributed to a robust multi-stakeholder engagement between the national, state and local institutions established for agricultural development.
“The agriculture CoP forum is being established to aid effective and efficient delivery of the ministry’s mandate by providing a common platform for the planning and implementation of agricultural policies, programmes and plans across the 36 states of the federation and FCT.
“This forum is established for regular collaboration, to discharge our mandate for the economic development of the country. The present administration is committed to the diversification of the nation’s economy and has made the development of the agricultural sector a top priority. Despite global challenges, the sector is witnessing unprecedented and consistent growth following its revival and gradual transformation since 2015.
“For us to sustain the achievement in the agricultural sector, it requires strong knowledge bases that should be constantly updated,” he said.
The minister urged the commissioners to use the opportunity provided by the platform to showcase their achievements and share experiences for the development of sound and viable agricultural policies for the country.
Earlier in his welcome address, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, said the CoP forum is expected to bring together all key players in the sector from the federal and state governments, development partners and non-state actors.
According to him, the forum entails regular and stronger collaboration, sharing of information, skills improvement and active deepening of the general knowledge of members to share experiences and institutionalisation of best practices amongst relevant stakeholders.
Umakhihe added that the overall coordination of CoP will be undertaken by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development as chairman with membership drawn from state commissioners for agriculture/rural development and other relevant state and non-state actors.
“I will serve as the secretary of this forum, supported by the planning and policy coordination department as secretariat. The secretariat will get facilities for keeping meeting records and for supporting and reporting on the activities of this forum. Members are expected to meet every two (2) months rotationally.”
In his goodwill message, the country representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Nigeria, Fred Kafeero stated that the unique advantage of CoP is that it is composed of the highest decision-makers in agriculture in the country and, as such, will be effective for regular interaction and knowledge-sharing amongst them.
“This CoP will facilitate the seamless and effective collaboration and partnership between us and the government agencies both National and Sub-national levels and for effective implementation of the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP) and other key agricultural initiatives also at national and sub-national levels,” he maintained.
Speaking on the overview of CoP for state commissioners for agriculture, country director, Actionaid Nigeria, Ene Obi emphasised the importance of collaboration between the ministry, state government and other relevant stakeholders towards achieving a single objective in the agriculture sector.
In a statement by the ministry’s director of information signed by Moduape Olatunji, Obi also thanked the ministry for demonstrating the political will and commitment by setting up the CoP for state commissioners of agriculture to foster a robust collaboration and synergy between the ministry and state ministries of agriculture.