Africa Diary
Africa Diary

Bilateral Perspective for Nigeria-India Agrarian Sector

Nigeria has witnessed impressive growth in the past few years. In fact, it continues to be one of the fastest growing economies for the foreseeable future. There exists immense potential along various sectors of the economy. But the most prominent one could be the agriculture sector, including processing of agricultural produce, supply and distribution, storage facilities, agricultural mechanisation, research and development, and development of small-scale technologies for on-farm as well as secondary processing. Agricultural products with great potential include groundnuts, palm oil, cocoa, citrus fruits, maize, millet, cassava etc.

Introduction

Agriculture worldwide is a primary and fundamental sector which aids self-sufficiency and fuels economic development. It is all the more crucial and important benchmark for emerging and developing economies. So is it in Nigeria. Though as a country Nigeria is blessed with several agricultural produce, yet it is beset with high levels of agricultural imports which is a concern. Hence, the government needs to devise ways and means to resolve this concern which is possible by ensuring agricultural infrastructure development including seeding, horticulture and equipment. This is also the window where a bilateral perspective for Nigeria-India agrarian sector opens up clearly. Further, the fact that India has been recorded as one of the top four agriculturally advanced countries following Russia, USA and China respectively (Simpson, 2010), Nigeria’s relationship with India is also being swotted.

Framework for Cooperation

Nigeria and India have been highly linked and coordinated in various aspects. This is evident from the following:

• India is the largest trading partner of Nigeria and Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa

• The bilateral trade in 2015-16 declined by 25 percent to $12.17 billion as against $16.36 billion recorded during 2014-15

• After a steady increase of India’s exports to Nigeria for the past few years, the period April 2016 to March 2017 witnessed a 20 percent decline in India’s exports to Nigeria to $ 1.77 billion from $2.22 billion during the corresponding period in 2015-16

• India’s imports from Nigeria form a large part of crude and petroleum products. In recent years, Nigeria has become one of the main sources of crude oil as India imports around 12 percent of its requirements from the African nation. India’s imports have declined significantly by 23 percent to $7.65 billion in 2016-17 as against $9.94 billion registered in 2015-16. Out of total imports of $7.65 billion, petroleum products alone accounted for $7.46 billion in 2016-17.

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa. India has overtaken the U.S. as the top buyer of Nigerian crude oil. Trade and investment is the fulcrum of economic relations between Nigeria and India (Wapmuk, 2012). Besides, they are reliable partners and emerging global powers. Indian investments in many areas have created employment opportunities and added value to the Nigerian economy (Wapmuk, 2012). Although Nigeria-India trade has come a long way, relook and dealing with certain challenges is vital to advance and fortify bilateral relations.

Opportunities and Way Forward

Nigeria has witnessed impressive growth in the past few years. In fact, it continues to be one of the fastest growing economies for the foreseeable future. There exists immense potential along various sectors of the economy. But the most prominent one could be the agriculture sector, including processing of agricultural produce, supply and distribution, storage facilities, agricultural mechanisation, research and development, and development of small-scale technologies for on-farm as well as secondary processing. Agricultural products with great potential include groundnuts, palm oil, cocoa, citrus fruits, maize, millet, cassava etc.

Further, continued levels of food deficits around the globe, reliance on food imports has reintroduced agriculture as an engine of growth on the policy agenda. A confluence of factors in recent years has renewed interest in agriculture and spur the early stages of Green Revolution 2.0. It is already happening in low income as well as emerging economies. Many in sub-Saharan Africa, have low productive agricultural systems and hence, hunger, poverty continue to be daunting problems. They face the age-old constraint to enhance productivity, due to lack of technology, poor market infrastructure, inappropriate institutions, and dearth empowering policy environment.

On the other hand, countries like India, where gains from the first Green Revolution were concentrated, are well on their way to agricultural modernisation and structural transformation (Timmer, 2007). This is where there exists a tremendous opportunity for both India and Nigeria to join hands which will facilitate to face agricultural challenges, be it of integrating smallholders into value chains, maintaining competitiveness, and closing the urban-rural income gap. Further, harnessing the private sector interest to invest in the agricultural sector is crucial to creating an agricultural renaissance (Pingali, 2010). The growing supermarket culture across urban areas globally boosts national and multinational agribusiness investments and allows traditional staple crop systems to diversify into high-value horticulture and livestock production as seen in India.

At the global level, by 2050, the global population is projected to increase by about one-third, which will require a 70 percent increase in food production (FAO, 2009). To meet this need, Nigeria must focus on yield frontier for major staples. Increasing cereal productivity not only meets staples demand, but also allows the land release to diversify into high-value crops. Finally, technologies to increase input use efficiency and improve management practices are necessary for sustainable and competitive production systems. Life sciences are now the leading source of innovation in agricultural science, especially biotechnology, and India with its lead therein can provide direction and leadership. Thus, mutually beneficial partnerships can channel the expertise of the Indian agriculture towards agricultural and overall advancement in Nigeria.

Nigeria-India Development via Agriculture Practices

India can play a significant role to boost agricultural productivity, transform Nigeria’s agriculture, and improve competitiveness through partnering on the fundamentals as per the Africa Competitiveness Report (2015), African Development Bank. These include:

• Development of high-yield crops by facilitating increased research into plant breeding, soil types, fertilizers, etc.

• Boost irrigation and adopt small individual-based approach as with the growing effects of climate change there is a need for more irrigation

• Provide and facilitate in making better use of information technology; software as it can support better crop; fertilizer and pesticide selection; improve land and water management; provides access to weather information; and connect farmers to sources of credit. Giving farmers’ information about crop prices in different markets has increased their bargaining power

• Biotechnology support to develop and adopt high-yield Genetically Modified (GM) crops resistant to weather shocks, as they provide an opportunity to address food insecurity

• Help and partner to step up integration into Agricultural Value Chains (AVCs)

In recent times, India has made several overtures towards Nigeria with a sincere intent of re-branding relationship in the context of old ties, and within the spirit of South-South Co-operation. Nonetheless, bilateral trade is yet to achieve its true potential. Putting adequate trade instruments in place along with refocused and realigned agricultural ties is crucial for sustainability and well-being of global citizenry. In addition, addressing market access constraints and non-tariff barriers that hinder the free trade across the region's frontiers will provide the impetus for greater bilateral economic synergy. Hence, Nigeria and India together need to work for advancement and shared benefit, both on agricultural and industrial turf.

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.

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