Group photograph of the advocacy team with the House Committee members in front of the Nigerian Senate.

Nigerian multistakeholder platform members pay a visit to the House of Representatives and Senate

The RFS Nigeria team has made multi-stakeholder platforms a mainstay of their project activities to ensure everyone in the agricultural value chain has a voice in transformation. One such platform has successfully influenced and advocated for the new Rice Council Bill.

Influencing policy and advocating for sustainable and resilient food systems benefit most from the diverse perspectives offered through multi-stakeholder platforms. Knowing this all too well, the Resilient Food Systems (RFS) Nigeria project, Integrated Landscape Management to Enhance Food Security and Ecosystem Resilience in Nigeria, has established a national, multi-stakeholder, gender-sensitive and inclusive advocacy platform that has made a tangible impact on the country’s rice value chain.

In March 2021, the RFS Nigeria project organised the National Workshop for the Establishment of Multi-stakeholder Gender-Sensitive platform with key stakeholders along the agricultural value chain, including producers, processors, research institutions and government agencies. To ensure the participation of women, the platform was founded in partnership with the Women Farmers Advanced Network (WOFAN) and gives voice to women, youth and civil society and connects them with a mechanism to influence policy as it relates to food and nutrition security.

Later that year, the platform paid a visit to the Nigerian House of Representatives and Senate to advocate on behalf of rural smallholder farmers and the agricultural sector. The meetings took place in Abuja between 28 November and 1 December 2021 and raised issues like:

  • Establishment of the National Rice Development Council
  • Improving access to simple processing and production mechanization and tools
  • Introduction of high-yield seed varieties
  • Combatting fertilizer adulteration through a bill that will protect farmers
  • Providing sustainable support to extension and research institutions
  • Halting rice importation barriers and fluctuating market prices in the wake of inflation and insecurity
  • Making a case for climate change mitigation, security of farmers, and adaptation

The National Rice Council Bill was passed in January 2022 with this advocacy campaign being one of the external factors which influenced it. The resulting National Rice Council will “... provide guidance on the rice research, comprehensive development of the rice Sector and the Organization of the rice Stakeholders to enhance the local production of rice in Nigeria.” [from the Bill itself].

It is estimated that two million metric tonnes of rice make their way into Nigeria illegally every year, and the National Rice Council is going to do something about it. Hajia Salamatu Garba, founder and CEO of WOFAN and Lead Consultant for the multi-stakeholder platform facilitated by RFS Nigeria, says that the Nigerian Rice Council will empower rice farmers to grow rice sustainably and with higher yields, and that this involves everyone.

“This push [for speedy passage of the Bill] will be achieved by the active involvement of all the key stakeholders at this roundtable of major stakeholders to identify strategies of presenting our concerns and areas of prioritization towards addressing gender, climate change and quality control issues including security in the Rice sector bill,” said Hajia Salamatu Garba at the advocacy meeting in December 2021.

Led by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF), the multistakeholder platform facilitated by RFS Nigeria has already seen impactful results. With the RFS programme ending in 2023, sustainability of programme activities is key, and the benefits of the National Rice Council are just beginning.

Download the newest RFS Learning Note from the Nigeria country project to learn more about the process they took for advocating for policy change.

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