Agricultural Development in Africa â€“ Africa has lagged behind other continents of the world in terms of agricultural growth due to low levels of productivity. However, this is now changing and in recent years there have been signs of growth. It is important that agriculture is given a major role in supporting growth and this was recognised by African Heads of State in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique, when it was decided that each African country should allocate 10% of its budget to agriculture for the sector to grow at 6% per annum by 2015.
Under the initiative of the African Union, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) had developed the CAADP for accelerating agricultural development. CAADP has four inter-related pillars to guide strategies for implementation of the Framework. Pillar IV is mandated to members of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa [FARA] which includes sub-regional organisations, and national agricultural systems of which ARCN is a member. Pillar IV aims at achieving accelerated gains in productivity through increased adoption of appropriate technologies, engagement with a broad-based stakeholders throughout the value chain, strengthening of systems to produce sustainable technologies and increased mechanisation.
CAADP is supported and guided by FAAP, which intends to strengthen Africa’s capacity for agricultural innovation. It embraces the IAR4D paradigm, which places farmers and users at the centre of innovative practices, and encourages learning through the interchange of ideas, successes, and failures between stakeholders in the agricultural value chain.
Nigeria’s Agricultural Research and Extension sub-sector â€“ Agriculture is a key component of Nigerian economy, currently contributing about 41% of the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product and employing about 70% of the active population. More than 70 percent of Nigeria’s estimated population of 140million is engaged in agriculture and largely consists of small farmers who reside in rural areas.
The Nigerian agricultural sector has traditionally been expected to provide food for the growing population, generate foreign exchange earnings, employ part of the labour force, and provide income for the farming households. However, the sector has failed to reach its full potential and is characterised by food shortages and inconsistent agricultural policies.
Agricultural research in Nigeria has a long history, the latest development being the signing of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria decree No 44 in May 1999. ARCN was finally launched in November 2006. It was established to address the
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challenges faced by the agricultural system in general and the activities of the National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) and Federal Colleges of Agriculture (FCAs) in particular and this is a priority of the Council.
Nigeria has a history of using a range of extension approaches and techniques, often with little impact on agricultural productivity. At present, modified versions of the Training and Visit Extension System are being used, as well as newer, more participatory approaches. Under the National Programme for Food Security, Government aims to strengthen extension service delivery by improving the ratio of extension agents to farm families and by establishing farm support centres in agricultural communities.
As a new organization, ARCN will make strategic decisions to guide its operations so that it meets the expectations of its stakeholders. The ARCN Strategic Plan is about innovation to enable it anticipate the future and prepare for it. The plan is built around a logical framework, which forms the basis around which this Strategic Plan has been developed.
Structure of the Strategic Plan â€“ The Development of the Strategic Plan has been guided by the mandated areas defined in the ARCN Act as well as supporting the implementation of CAADP Pillar IV and implementing the agricultural policies of the Government of Nigeria. It has been developed using the logframe as a management and design tool.
The ARCN Vision and Mission statements confirm the organisation’s commitment to national, sub-regional and regional policies and priorities. They capture the core elements of the Strategic Plan and fully reflect the aims and goals of CAADP, which are to enhance economic development through agriculture, and meet the Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty and eradicating hunger.