Political Settlement Analysis of Employment Creation in Agriculture and Agro-industries in Nigeria
Agriculture in Nigeria has not generated significant results from the policy interventions instituted by various government regimes to improve its productivity and impact on the economy. The country continues to expend its limited foreign exchange on massive food imports while underemployment and unemployment continue to plague the economy, problems that agriculture has the potential to address. Although the agricultural sector suffered government neglect during the oil boom of 1970–1985, when the oil industry took preference in government investment initiatives, there has been focused policy efforts to revive the sector to be a supplier of food and foreign exchange and an important employer of labour. The policies have aimed to improve agricultural productivity and raise the number and quality of its jobs, which mostly are of low and irregular wages and vulnerable, casual and unsecure nature. The realisation that youth unemployment was a factor in social discontent pushed employment creation to the top of the priorities of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda launched in 2011, focusing on creating “agripreneurs” from the pool of young graduates who had hitherto not benefited from economic growth. Using rice and cotton as examples, this paper seeks to understand why these policies failed. The failure of the policies is attributed to the lack of political support from the ruling coalition; inadequacy of the capacity of the bureaucracy to handle and process information, monitor actor behaviour, and articulate the vision for the industry; fragmentation and disorganisation of the value chains; and lack of interagency coordination and networking among the stakeholders.