Michigan State University (MSU) and IFPRI’s Nigeria Strategy Support Program (IFPRI-NSSP), jointly organized a major conference on Collaborative Research for Agricultural Policy in Nigeria as part of the dissemination activities of the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project. This was the second major conference organized by the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project following the successful launch of the Project during its first conference in September 2016. This high-profile, three-day (14-16 August 2018) event attracted more than 150 participants from all over Nigeria and was held at Transcorp Hilton in Abuja. Participants included representatives from academia, federal and state government officials, agribusiness, private sector, farmer organizations, the media, and civil society organizations among others.
Participating and present at the opening segment of the Conference were the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Innocent Ogbeh, the Deputy Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/Nigeria), Dr. Erin Holleran; and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Distinguished Senator Dr. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi. Others were the Chief Economist USAID, Dr. Louise Fox; the Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture & Natural Resources, Hon. Attahiru Maccido; Permanent Secretary, Niger State Ministry of Livestock and Fishery, Dr. Jonathan Wasa; Representatives of the Commissioners for Agriculture of the 6 other USAID Feed the Future Focus States (Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna and Niger); various senior advisors of the government of Nigeria; senior management of FMARD and other ministries among others.
Various presentations were delivered on relevant policy topics including youth employment, food systems transformation, land governance, climate change, technology adoption, nutrition, public agricultural expenditures and the overall nexus between agriculture and the macro economy. Presentations were based on the best papers selected from a Call for Papers (CfP) widely advertised within Nigeria (through a rigorous review process) and in connection with the conference theme. Various papers were also presented in connection with policy relevant research work conducted by the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project since the inception of the Project.
The conference program also included 3 invited parallel sessions organized by the Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE), the Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigeria (ADAN) and the Agriculture Policy Research Network in Nigeria (APRNet).
The conference also featured three plenary sessions and policy roundtables focusing on (1) food systems transformation and implications for employment and food safety in Nigeria, (2) food security and nutrition challenges for agricultural policy, and (3) strengthening further collaborative research for agricultural policy.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development thanked USAID/Nigeria, IFPRI and MSU for their support to Nigeria through the Project. He said “To USAID and the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project, I cannot thank you enough because you support us, you give us encouragement. And when we share our anxieties, you make us feel like we are getting something right, if not altogether. We do not know everything, but that is why we are here.”
Dr. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Distinguished Senator and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, in his own goodwill message, stated that the conference with its theme was timely. According to him, “I want to draw our attention that sustainable success requires that we pay attention to homegrown productivity increases among our farmers and other value chain actors. This will require that we pay greater attention to our agricultural research and innovation system; which is not in the best of shape.”
In the closing plenary session on Strengthening Further Collaborative Research for Agricultural Policy in Nigeria, a group of distinguished panelists with substantial experience working on agricultural policy in Nigeria highlighted instances of collaboration in agricultural policy that were already taking place in Nigeria. They also suggested measures that would help strengthen further collaboration in agricultural policy research for Nigeria, stressing that agriculture is a “team sport”.
That said, it was agreed that to improve collaboration in agricultural policy research, there was need for all the players in the sector to collaboratively address issues challenging agricultural policy and its effectiveness in solving problems. For instance, the private sector could fund research, decreasing dependence on donors and the government for research funding. Research could also be made more collaborative by building more interdisciplinary interactions into research teams. The need to prioritize and support young Nigerian scholars was also discussed. Appreciation was given for efforts thus far with a call for more support articulated.
The Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project is a USAID/Nigeria funded 5-year Project jointly implemented by Michigan State University’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics (MSU) and IFPRI’s Nigeria Strategy Support Program (IFPRI-NSSP).