The Agriculture Sector in Nigeria remains the foundation of the Nigerian economy despite the presence of oil in the country and has been a source of livelihood for most Nigerians. Over the years the sector has grown tremendously both domestically and internationally and with the renewed focus on the growth of the non-oil sector of the economy, the government has over the years developed policies geared specifically toward the improvement of the agricultural sector and encouragement of farmers and investors.
In the 3rd quarter of 2019, the sector grew by 14.88% year-on-year in nominal terms with a decline of 3.44% points from the 3rd quarter of 2018 thereby contributing 25.2% (N10.50 trillion) to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the 3rd quarter of 2019. The largest driver of this sector in Nigeria is crop production, which accounts for 91.6% of the sector in the 3rd quarter of 2019 with quarterly growth of 44.12%.
The sector over the years has been transformed by commercialization at the small, medium, and large-scale enterprise level, and the firm has been able to provide legal services across the entire value chain.
With a close consideration of the major aspects of Agrobusiness which includes: Agricultural input, Agricultural production, Agricultural processing-manufacturing or agro-processing, and Agricultural marketing-distribution, the firm has actively advised on numerous innovations highlighted below;
- The use of rabbit urine as fertilizers and pesticides
- The use of orange-fleshed sweet potato as a way of reducing the cost of bread and confectionery production, an alternative to fruit juices, and a sustainable source of Vitamin A.
- The extraction and exploration of protein from insect.
- the extraction and refabrication of essential oils such as the extraction of essential oil from lemon grass.
“Innovations leading into life sciences”.
- The development of an innovative cooling solution in Nigeria, by pairing local companies with innovators to test new TCL cooling solutions that can increase efficiency, reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, and improve accessibility by recording parameters like temperature consistency, Humidity control, Weight reduction, Commodity storage duration, reduction in Commodity losses and extended shelf life of the commodity.
- Development of a Smallholder Agricultural Commodities Export Program to optimize the productivity and quality assurance of Small Holders Farmer (SHF) by identifying inefficiencies in the agriculture value chain of specific export commodities such as collection, mechanization, and appropriate storage to provide for the availability of these efficiency factors as a means of assuring market acceptance and enhancing SHF earnings and living standards.
Within the industry, several finance structures that are project specific have experienced a lot of constructive measures and leveraging on these measures, the firm has worked with several companies and has been able to develop a legal structure as a foundation for creating a sustainable business that is not only impactful in their operations but also in the lives of the farmers who are major stakeholders in these projects which includes:
- Alternative Lending Scheme whereby the farmers who have farmlands, are provided with the tools, seedlings, pesticides, and all required materials for a full cycle of production up to point of off-taking, eventual sale, and profit sharing. The scheme is currently worth over USD 500,000 with over 10,000 farmers.
- A Five Billion (N5,000,000.00) value chain development program targeted towards the development of the poultry value chain production by collectivizing Small Holder Farmers (SHF) at the primary production segment of the value chain for both broilers and layers and leveraging existing poultry farm settlements in the State.
- Corporative initiatives involving the creation of several mortgages geared toward the provision of low-cost homes to farmers, and the provision of securities to ensure the day-to-day operations of the farmers.
- Creation of an alternative investment solution to traditional asset classes in the market environment for investors through the establishment of dedicated commodity notes as well as the development of commodity portfolios for the subscribers.
Agriculture is a vulnerable sector that in the ordinary sense has been shown and proven to be susceptible to pests, human factors, preservation issues, and other numerous issues the players regularly face to manage. In the last two years, however, by virtue of the pandemic, the bandwidth of these risks has expanded tremendously where appropriate reaction became necessary.
By virtue of the pandemic, the agriculture sector felt the impact across every subsector from livestock, forestry, fishing, and most especially crop production as there was a massive decline in demand for restaurant and commercial food services in combination with restrictions in labour, processing capacity and/or storage led to farmers discarding their output en masse. Although the effect of the pandemic in agriculture led to the frustration of numerous agricultural investments or partnerships as most of the players in the sector had to declare that whatever contract entered into, or obligation owed had been overtaken by a force majeure incident, it has also shaped the way the firm can provide advisory services to its clients now recognizing the possibility of critical outbreaks or pandemic and thereby adequately safeguarding the operations of its client through multiple layered documentation and operational policies. Furthermore, the firm has been able to:
- offer legal services and assist several farm management companies whose operations had been affected negatively by the pandemic in handling and managing claims arising from their numerous subscribers, investors, and partners.
- develop working strategies to mitigate such claims and the damages that may have been incurred by the company.
- support the companies by providing legal advice and assistance through representation in courts and at the offices of various law enforcement agencies.
- Food Lawyers Network (FLN): the firm is a member of the FLN, an organization that supports and assists food business entrepreneurs, small farmers, farmers’ markets, restaurant owners, etc by providing pro-bono or reduced-cost legal services.
- International Bar Association- Agricultural Law Section (IBA-ALS): the firm through its principal is a committee member and officer of the Agricultural Law Section of the IBA, which is a newly formed sector that covers a comprehensive and dynamic legal practice area, particularly relating to agricultural land usage, ownership, and farmers right; seed law, plant variety law, biotechnology/ GMO law; food trade, food safety, and food liability.
- Nigeria Bar Association (NBA)- the firm is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association.
- SBL Agriculture Committee: the firm is a member of the agriculture sector of the NBA.