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Researchers advocate community-driven agric devt model

Vanguard - September 11, 2014

The Federal Government and other development stakeholders had consistently implemented the classical model of development—a top-down strategy that trickles down from a central policy-making body to the rural communities which has not helped in poverty alleviation as envisaged.

This was the submission of two researchers from the American University of Nigeria at the Fifth International Sustainable Development Summit, held at Ibadan recently.
In their paper entitled: Circling into the future – finding the best approach to agricultural development in rural Nigeria,  the duo of Mr. Fardeen Dodo of the School of Business & Entrepreneurship, and Mr. Olurotimi Ogundijo, Farm Research Manager, Office of Sustainability Initiatives, both of AUN, have advocated a community-driven development model that actively engages rural farmers to foster sustainable agricultural development as a prerequisite to drastic poverty reduction.

They proposed the new model because “…it is designed to be less dependent on officialdom and optimizing the ability of community actors to determine their own problems and solutions while reaching very large numbers of poor people.”

Their recommendation was based on the inability of earlier post-colonial agricultural development models to generate continuous citizen participation and foster the  level of entrepreneurship required to address the nation’s agricultural crisis.

After critically appraising the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial strategies, they contended that the community-driven development (CDD) model would put food on the table, yield surplus for export and secure the commitment of the people for lasting growth, development and progress.

They noted that projects like the National Accelerated Food Production Program (NAFPP) 1972, Agricultural Development Projects (ADP) of 1974 and 1989,  Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) of 1976,Green Revolution (GR) of 1980; Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) program of 1986; Better Life Program (BLP) For Rural Women of 1987; National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) of 1992; National Special Program on Food Security (NSPFS) 2002; and the Root and Tuber Expansion Program (RTEP) of 2003 all failed as they could not generate sustenance.

“To a large extent, these programs are considered to have failed despite their presence in many states and their laudable objectives that centre on increasing food production, poverty eradication, and provision of low-cost and improved technologies.”

They, however, pointed out that the National Fadama Development Project (NFDP-2), which utilised the CDD model, targeting the development of small-scale irrigation, especially in the low-lying alluvial floodplains, was successful. Fadama 2 increased the productivity, living standards and  capacity development of the economically active rural communities, while boosting their efficiency in delivering implementation services to an estimated four million rural beneficiary households, raising their real incomes by 45 per cent.

The CDD, being implemented in 80 countries, is reminiscent of the pre-colonial, people-driven development strategy and has put the people in the driver’s seat, adequately encouraging the requisite level of entrepreneurship needed to empower rural agriculture. The role of the government,they argued, should be supportive, helping farmers go about their own activities and lives.

In a related development, another team of researchers from the same institution have advised that instead of training unemployed youth to join the industry under the Local Apprenticeship Scheme, government should rather promote “the setting up and development of waste recycling and input manufacturing businesses, while companies explore integrating backwards and forwards into input manufacturing and waste recycling respectively, to maximize their economic and environmental savings. This, they noted, will improve local economies.

The team comprises the Provost, Professor Charles Reith, Dean, Postgraduate School, Professor John Leonard and Mr. Fardeen Dodo. In their paper entitled: Industrial Ecology as an approach for Sustainable Development in a West African Rural Economy, they recommended forward and backward integration of waste recycling and input manufacturing, to maximize economic and environmental savings, while boosting community wellbeing.

The research results, presented at the Fifth annual seminar of the Center for Sustainable Development held at the University of Ibadan, noted that implementing industrial ecology in rural communities that have a preponderance of micro-scale enterprises, will result in job expansion, increased employment and greater community peace.

Using Yola and Jimeta as research samples, they found that most businesses in the area are heavily dependent on foreign inputs, while the overwhelming majority of the wastes and byproducts they generate, are recyclable. A workable and sustainable solution therefore lies in organising groups of enterprises to support, rather than compete, with one another, in better resource management.

These two towns, like many other communities of the Northeast and other parts of Nigeria, have long been associated with poverty, illiteracy, poor industrialisation and general underdevelopment. Rising insecurity in the region has further accentuated these social problems, underscoring the need for proactive measures towards social development, peace, and security.

Chambers of commerce are also advised to incorporate the documentation of local economies to assist with continued research and development in this area. Further research is also needed to quantify the inputs needed by the economy and the outputs produced, in addition to statistics on the extent of reusability or recyclability of wastes and by-products.

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