By Bukar Bolori
Nigeria and France have signed a grant agreement of €1.2 million for the development of a strategy for agriculture and food markets in Nigeria.
The agreement was signed on Thursday by the Government of Nigeria represented by the Federal Minister of Finance (FMoF), the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), the French Ambassador to Nigeria, the Country Director of the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Director of International Relations of the French company, Semmaris.
According to a statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria, the AFD grant will finance a one-year technical assistance program to assist the FMARD in the design of a national agrifood market development strategy. This one-year study, which will run from Q1 2023 to Q1 2024, will look at the whole value chains market ecosystem from rural to urban areas, with a particular focus on the three largest urban consumption areas in Nigeria: Lagos-Ibadan, Kano-Kaduna and Owerri-Port-Harcourt.
The statement added that the study will result in an inventory of existing agricultural markets, an in-depth analysis of current distribution channels and agrifood logistics, a legal and regulatory framework adapted to market development, and technical recommendations to rehabilitate or build three terminal markets.
The programme will be implemented by the French company, Semmaris with the support of the Federal Project Management Unit (FPMU) of the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) within the FMARD. Semmaris has been managing for over 50 years the largest wholesale fresh food market worldwide in Rungis, France.
The Rungis Market, according to the statement, brings together over 1,200 companies from various segments of the food value chains. This initiative will build on the 10-year intervention of the World Bank and AFD in the rural development sector in Nigeria through the “Rural Access and Mobility Project” (RAMP) achieved in 2021, and the on-going “Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project” (RAAMP) (2020-2028) co-financed by AFD and World Bank for a total investment of €700 million including $296 million from AFD.
The statement further revealed that these projects will contribute to reducing post-harvest losses through the rehabilitation of over 2 000km of all-season rural roads and the upgrading of 65 collection markets into agro-logistics hubs in 19 States across the country.
In Nigeria, agriculture accounts for 22% of GDP in 2020 and employs 70% of the formal and informal working population. Nigeria is a major producer of roots and tubers (world’s leading producer of cassava, large producer of taro and yam), cereals (maize, rice, sorghum), cocoa and palm oil. Its agriculture is characterized by small, low-productivity family farms, which practice low-mechanized subsistence rain-fed agriculture. 80% of farmers are smallholders and provide a total of 90% of the country’s agricultural production. Despite growing agricultural production, imports of agri-food products are increasing while 30 to 40% of crops are said to be lost on site due to lack of access to roads and markets.
This study will contribute to structuring a food value chain and strengthen agri-food systems. It will help identify the terminal markets that should be rehabilitated or newly built in the outskirts of cities, linking up Nigeria’s major urban consumption areas to rural areas that are benefitting from AFD and World Bank’s past and on-going interventions. Wholesale markets will this way build upon the existing ring of improved infrastructures (rural roads, food markets) and good maintenance practices set up under the RAMP projects. Against the backdrop of fast population growth and rapid urbanization, this study will help strengthen cities’ food supply.