Reliable Agric Data, Essential For Effective Policy Formulation – Minister
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, says reliable agriculture-related data is an effective policy formulation and strategy to improve information on food security.
Speaking at the 2022 African Statistics Day Celebration (User/Producer Dialogue), held at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Abuja, Agba stated that the need for reliable agricultural data could not be overemphasised because it would improve Government ’s policies and strategies in tackling food crisis and poverty.
In his words: “Statistics, using modern methods and innovative technology is the right way to go if Nigeria and the African continent are to achieve their lofty development plans and strategies. NBS has taken up the challenge of using modern methods to produce the right agricultural data the country needs and the government will continue to provide the required support.”
According to him, the national statistical system must be properly financed; coupled with adequate support to the development of statistical skills, which includes the provision of new technological tools, among others.
Agba assured to double his supportive efforts to the NBS and the Nigerian statistical system in order to continue to innovate and produce more useful information that informs government, businesses, research communities and the public.
His words: “The purpose of government is to deliver the greatest good to the greatest number of people. So, if the statistics show that there are issues, we need to use them as they are. Thus, statistics by the NBS would not be tampered with. That is one of the reasons we decided to carry out the Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey. We have to reduce poverty in a sustainable way that will promote growth. Once you understand who is poor; to what extent they are poor; why they are poor and the type of poverty, then you will be able to address issues,’’ he said. On his part, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Prince Semiu Adeniran, said in his remarks, the theme for this year’s celebration was apt because of the peculiar times the country and Africa were presently in. Over the past six months, the issue of food security and nutrition has been a topical issue in many countries across Africa, most especially since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The conflict has had a significant impact on food supply in Africa , which gets more than 40 per cent of its wheat and corn from Ukraine. In Nigeria, a major importer of grains from Ukraine, the situation is further exacerbated by security challenges and floods that have affected farming activities across the country. Producing and using the right agriculture statistics to inform policies and interventions that boost output, improve nutrition and food security in Africa is of high priority and a matter of urgent national importance. Modern methods and innovations are required to support and ease the production of agriculture data in Nigeria and across Africa. I am glad to say that in NBS, we have already started this process,’’ he said.
Speaking further, Adeniran expressed dissatisfaction towards the challenges of tackling nutrition and food insecurity, thereby discouraging the production of agriculture data required.
He said the collection process of agriculture data was one of the most tedious and expensive among the various types of data collected by the NBS, due to the extensive nature of the agriculture sector and the kind of manpower and time required to adequately cover it.
Commenting, Dr Ebuh Godday, President, Nigerian Statistical Association, said the impact of the Russian-Ukraine conflict on food crisis in Africa underscored the relevance of the theme of the event, “Strengthening data systems by modernizing the production and use of agricultural statistics: Informing policies with a view to improving resilience in agriculture, nutrition and food security in Africa’’, in building Africans’ dreams.
He added that, if Nigeria, as a nation, can feed its citizens, the bulk of its challenges will be drastically minimized, if not completely eradicated.