Driving Agricultural Transformation Through Evidence Based Policy Reform
The agricultural sector plays a critical role in the economies of sub-Saharan countries, including Nigeria, where it accounts for over 20% of the gross domestic product and employs 35% of the population. The development and growth of competitive agribusinesses is essential for Nigeria to accelerate and sustain economic progress. Unfortunately, Nigeria's poor business environment has hindered the growth of the agricultural industry due to weak policy institutions that have failed to provide adequate regulatory oversight and services to agribusinesses. The USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity (NAI) was designed to improve the business environment for agribusiness and agriculture investment as part of its objective to promote private sector investment and growth in agriculture. As a subcontractor to Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), J.E. Austin Associates (JAA) provided technical assistance on NAI through an evidence-based and collaborative methodology that led to improved policies that are being implemented to provide an enabling environment for private sector investment and growth.
Policy Reform Approach
JAA's policy development methodology involves evidence-based Public Private Dialogues (PPDs) with private sector partners, government representatives, and other stakeholders to facilitate communication and buy-in, resulting in the creation of new policies that respond to the needs of all stakeholders in the agribusiness value chain. The JAA team equips stakeholders with tools and resources to navigate the complexities of policy implementation and strengthen their policy implementation capabilities through training and mentoring.
Promoting Industrialization and Agricultural Value Chains Development
The Niger State Ministry of Investment, Commerce, and Industry partnered with Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity in 2021 to boost the development of agricultural industries through improved policies that strengthen the investment environment for agriculture. The activity helped to design a sector-specific investment incentive policy. JAA provided technical assistance in reviewing the state's policy framework and engaging in consultation meetings with stakeholders such as small and medium agribusinesses, farmers' cooperatives, and government agencies to identify private sector challenges and investment opportunities. The policy was targeted at driving the development of sector-specific agribusiness value chains. New corporations, such as Kiara Rice Mills, were attracted to the state through tax credits from the new policy, which kickstarted a seven-billion-naira project by installing a factory plant, creating new jobs, and increasing local rice production.
Improving Local Policy Implementation Capacity
JAA strengthens institutional capacity in implementation planning through a variety of innovative tools. JAA's Policy Implementation Monitoring Tool evaluates the progress of policy implementation across eight stages, identifying gaps and achieved milestones. JAA Policy Reform and Institutional Strengthening expert Joe Lowther worked with four agriculture policy specialists to adapt the tool to the Nigerian context. The JAA team helped national and state ministries develop implementation plans for eight policies. JAA trained the Policy Implementation Advocacy Community of Practice (PIAC) Group, a team of experts who have volunteered to continue working towards improving the enabling environment through policy reforms beyond the activity's term, in the use of the policy monitoring tool to transfer ownership and ensure the sustainability of its policy interventions.
The Policy Implementation Monitoring Tool was applied to the newly updated National Agriculture Seed Policy. JAA organized a workshop training members of the National Agricultural Seed Council on how to use the policy tool to monitor their implementation of the new policy. "The training helped highlight areas of implementation we were ignorant of. We learned how to assess and identify risks that could be barriers to implementation and how to track performance to ensure every stakeholder is meeting their objective," said Mr. Towolawi Oluwole, Director of Seed Information, Data Management, and Capacity Building of the National Agricultural Seed Council.
The USAID Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity has been instrumental in unlocking over $244 million in financing and investments for 18,437 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that have significant economic potential. The activity has enhanced cooperation with governmental and non-governmental entities, creating a collaborative environment between governmental bodies and non-governmental economic entities to drive progress in Nigeria's agriculture and agribusiness sector.