The Role of Law in the Nigerian Agriculture Industry

CONTRIBUTED BY EBEKHILE LOVE ELIZABETH

INTRODUCTION

There is no doubt that Nigeria is richly blessed with a great agricultural system. The Land’s fertility is considered one of the best in the world. Statistical reports have it that Nigeria has an arable land of 34 million hectares of meadows and pastures, and by that, Agriculture accounts for 23 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP. The country is a leader in various types of agricultural production, such as palm oil, cocoa beans, pineapple, and sorghum. It is the largest producer of sorghum in the world just after the United States, and ranks fifth in the production of palm oil and cocoa beans. Nigeria is also a large global exporter in this sector. Oil, fruits, nuts, and seeds are among the ten best-performing export categories.[1]

In light of the above, it becomes increasingly necessary to facilitate some level of proper administration in this process, and this is why the interrelation between law and agriculture becomes a real factor. Law in agriculture is considered a foremost part especially when it concerns the period from production to consumption, the main reason being the versatility of its application.

In this article, we will be examining the concept of Agricultural law and how it affects the Nigerian Agricultural Industry.

What is Agricultural Law?

This is usually considered the application of legal regulations that apply to the agricultural industry. Dennis Rapong’o defines agricultural law as that law that deals with legal matters concerning the agricultural sector such as agricultural infrastructure, seed, water, fertilizers, pesticides agricultural finance, agricultural insurance, farming rights and tenure systems and the legal regulations used in agro-processing and rural industries.[2] While, North Dakota State University, define Agriculture Law as the application of fundamental legal concepts (such as property law and contract law) to issues arising in agriculture, and legal concepts that are unique to agriculture (such as food safety regulations or soil conservation programs).[3]

This is not far from the truth, agricultural law, is indeed the interjection of legal provisions with the practice of agriculture, to ensure the proper administration in this sector.

The role of Law in Agriculture

As earlier noted, in our general overview, law is pivotal to the success of the agricultural industry. However, there are specifics in the role it plays in ensuring the sustainability of this industry. A few of them are examined below:

  1. Land Acquisition:

Although not all farming is related to tilling the ground for harvest, one common practice associated with all of them is the need for the land area to carry out whatever form of agricultural practice. The implication of this rather common ground is to ensure that all the correct legal measures are followed to the latter to ensure a free and undisturbed enjoyment of the land.

In Nigeria, Land Acquisition is regulated by the provisions of the Land Use Act of 1978. The provisions of this Act abolished the existing land tenure systems and made for a uniform administration of Land tenure system. With the existence of this Act, Farmers are given an opportunity to own land, or even lease landed properties.

  1. Right to Quality Agro-Inputs:

For farmers who are into seed buying, the law of contract, and Sales of Goods Law amongst other prominent laws, protect the right of the purchasing farmer, where he is defrauded by the other party. This ensures that farmers enjoy what is referred to as quality agro-inputs. Where the purchase appears to be consistent, there also arises the need for a sales contract to regulate the transactions.

  1. Agro-financing:

Agro-financing also known as Agriculture financing refers to (public or private) resources (in form of equity, gift or loan), for improving social welfare through the development of the agricultural sector. It encompasses not only government funds but also funds of non-governmental organizations that use matching grants to attempt to promote community and sector development, income equality and local empowerment.[4]

Having highlighted the significant roles played by law in the Agricultural industry, it becomes pertinent to also highlight the areas of challenges faced in Implementation. A few of these challenges are:

  1. Persistent Regulatory Review:

With the consistent review of legal provisions in the Nigerian Legal system, it becomes hard for the industry to keep up. To a large extent, there is a high dependence on investment. Thus, the constant change in policies, such as taxation, loan policy, and return on investment policies amongst others are sure to affect the economy.

  1. Poor Sensitization:

It is no longer news that the majority of farmers have little or no access to the required knowledge surrounding their agricultural practice. Statistics show that there exists poor knowledge amongst farmers on the issues of land acquisition and management.

  1. Lack of Proper Labour Infrastructure:

Law as earlier identified, cuts across every industry, so it is required that law also regulates the agricultural labour sector. This is considered one of the significant aspects of agriculture, it determines the production level and the revenue generated in this sector. This goes beyond manual labour, it also addresses the need for expertise, and outlines where there is a need for foreign expertise on matters of sustainability. There are laws like the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020, which address specifically the issue of foreign participation, but there is a lack of provisional arrangement for where this expertise concerns foreign expertise in agricultural sustainability.

Other challenges are transnational border transactions, poverty, and poor transportation medium.

CONCLUSION:

Agriculture remains a big deal whether it is large or small scale, manual or industrialized. It is necessary that the law takes into consideration, all the challenges and ensures that legislations are more specific in addressing these issues. Also, sensitization programs need to be carried out to inform farmers of the options available to them and map out proper loan channels.

Indeed, Agriculture has great potential to boost the economy and ensure its stability.

Key terms: Agriclaw, Agrolaw, Agrotech, law and Agriculture, Agriculture in law.

  1. Agriculture in Nigeria- Statistics and Facts https://www.statista.com/topics/6729/agriculture-in-nigeria/#topicOverview Accessed 20th February 2023.
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/role-law-agriculture-sustainable-development-dennis-rapong-o
  3. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/aglawandmanagement/appliedaglaw/coursematerials/introaglaw Accessed 20th February, 2023.
  4. Agricdemy “Agriculture Financing in Nigeria” https://agricdemy.com/post/agriculture-financing-nigeria#:~:text=Agriculture%20financing%20refers%20to%20(public,through%20development%20of%20agricultural%20sector. Accessed 20th February, 2023.

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