The previous agricultural policy document was finalized in 1988 and was supposed to remain operative until the year 2000. Hence, in year 2001, a new policy document was launched. The new policy document bears most of the features of the old one, but with more focused direction and better articulation.
Objectives of New Agricultural Policy
In a broad sense, the objectives of the new agricultural policy are very similar to those of the old one. They include:
(i) The achievement of self-sufficiency in basic food supply and the attainment of food security;
(ii) Increased production of agricultural raw materials for industries;
(iii) Increased production and processing of export crops, using improved production and processing technologies;
(iv) Generating gainful employment;
(v) Rational utilization of agricultural resources, improved protection of agricultural land resources from drought, desert encroachment, soil erosion and flood, and the general preservation of the environment for the sustainability of agricultural production;
(vi) Promotion of the increased application of modern technology to agricultural production; and,
(vii) Improvement in the quality of life of rural dwellers.
Key Features of the Policy
The key features of the new policy are as follows:
Evolution of strategies that will ensure self-sufficiency and improvement in the level of technical and economic efficiency in food production. This is to be achieved through:
(i) The introduction and adoption of improved seeds and seed stock,
(ii) adoption of improved husbandry and appropriate machinery and equipment,
(iii) Efficient utilization of resources,
(iv) Encouragement of ecological specialization, and
(v) Recognition of the roles and potentials of small -scale farmers as the
Major producers of food in the country.
Reduction of risks and uncertainties in agriculture, to be achieved through the introduction of a more comprehensive agricultural insurance scheme to reduce the natural hazard factor militating against agricultural production and security of investment.
A nationwide, unified and all-inclusive extension delivery system under the Agricultural Development Programs (ADPs).
Active promotion of agro-allied industry to strengthen the linkage effect of agriculture on the economy.
Provision of such facilities and incentives as rural infrastructure, rural banking, primary health care, cottage industries etc, to encourage agricultural and rural development and attract youths (including school leavers) to go back to the land.
Major Content of the Policy Framework
The policies cover issues on:
(i) Agricultural resources (land, labor, capital, seeds, fertilizer, etc) whose supply and prices affect the profitability of agricultural business,
(ii) Crops, livestock, fisheries and agro-forestry production,
(iii) Pest control,
(v) Water resources and irrigation,
(vi) Rural infrastructure,
(Vii) Agricultural extension and technology transfer,
(viii) Research and development (R&D),
(ix) Agricultural commodity storage, processing and marketing,
(x) Credit supply,
(xii) Agricultural cooperatives,
(xiii) Training and manpower development, and
(xiv) Agricultural statistics and information management.
The successful implementation of the agricultural policy is, however, contingent upon the existence of appropriate macroeconomic policies that provide the enabling environment for agriculture to grow in equilibrium with other sectors. They affect profitability of agricultural enterprises and the welfare of farmers through their effects on the flow of credit and investment funds, taxes, tariffs, subsidies, budgetary allocation, etc.
The New Policy Direction
According to the document, the new agricultural policy will herald in a new policy direction via new policy strategies that will lay the foundation for sustained improvement in agricultural productivity and output. The new strategies involve:
(i) Creating a more conducive macro-environment to stimulate greater private sector investment in agriculture;
(ii) Rationalizing the roles of the tiers of government and the private sector in their promotional and supportive efforts to stimulate agricultural growth;
(iii) Reorganizing the institutional framework for government intervention in the agricultural sector to facilitate the smooth and integrated development of the sector;
(iv) Articulating and implementing integrated rural development programs to raise the quality of life of the rural people;
(v) Increasing budgetary allocation and other fiscal incentives to agriculture and promoting the necessary developmental, supportive and service-oriented activities to enhance agricultural productivity, production and market opportunities; and
(vi). Rectifying import tariff anomalies in respect of agricultural products and promoting the increased use of agricultural machinery and inputs through favourable tariff policy.
Key Agricultural Development, Supportive and Service Delivery Programs of the Federal Government
Following the redefined roles and responsibilities of tiers of government and the private sector, the main thrust of federal government programs and activities will be directed at obviating the technical and structural problems of agriculture in the following respects.
Development Programs and Activities
These will include research and development, (including biotechnology development), animal vaccine production, veterinary drug manufacture, agro -chemicals manufacture, water management, adaptive technology promotion, and the creation and operation of an Agricultural Development Fund.
(a) Research and development, including biotechnology: The effort in this direction is to finance agricultural research, including biotechnology and the breeding of predators for the biological control of crop pests which the private sector may not be willing to invest in due to the high capital outlay and a relatively low return from agricultural investments. The output of the research system will be disseminated by the extension services of the states and local governments to farmers, ranging from small-scale to large-scale farmers.
(b) Animal vaccine production:The capacity of the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), which is the premier institution for animal vaccine production in the West Africa sub-region, will be strengthened, enlarged and modernized in order to raise the level of vaccine production in Nigeria to a self-sufficiency level and also to cater for the entire West Africa sub-region.
(c) Veterinary drug manufacture:A veterinary drug manufacturing outfit with the capacity to meet the needs of the West Africa sub-region will be established. Relevant agencies of government will collaborate with the private sector for the accelerated take off of the factory. Government interests in this venture will, however, be sold to the private sector in line with the privatization policy.
(d) Agro -chemicals manufacture: Government will manufacture and promote the production of agro-chemicals by the private sector and will ensure the protection of the users, the eco-system and the environment through appropriate pesticide legislation. Effective monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance with the law will be put in place.
(e) Water management: Currently, large dams constructed in the country have impounded a lot of water with high fisheries and duck farming potentials and having the capacity for irrigation. The completion of the outstanding downstream irrigation infrastructure of the already completed large dams in the country will be accorded top priority in order to make them useful to the farmers and to maximize the benefits of the huge investments already incurred in constructing them.
Emphasis will now shift to developing small dams as a more cost effective way of utilizing water resources for irrigation in the country. The maintenance of the existing large dams will, however, continue to be the responsibility of the Federal Government. In addition, rain harvesting for irrigation agriculture is to be promoted where surface and underground water is not readily available.
(f) Adaptive technology: Economic deregulation has increased agricultural production costs astronomically. At the same time, globalization of trade, which thrives on comparative advantage in production, makes efficiency of production and the application of economies of scale mandatory if Nigeria is to get a sizeable market share in the highly competitive global trade arena. In order to improve efficiency of production, therefore, simple labor -and cost-saving devices that are appropriate for the current level of agricultural production and processing in the country will be developed and mass-produced. The National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization (NCAM), the institution established for this purpose, will be strengthened. Other initiatives in this direction, such as animal traction and hand tools technology development, will be encouraged.
(g) Agricultural Development Fund: The National Agricultural Development Fund is to provide the necessary impetus for the sustainable development of the agricultural sector. It will support both public and private sectors in carrying out activities that will boost agricultural and rural development, with emphasis on all facets of agricultural research, market development, extension delivery, long-term credit, rural Institutions development and enterprise promotion. The Fund will derive its revenues from:
(i) Savings from subsidy withdrawals on fertilizer,
(ii) 5 percent of the proceeds from the privatization of government enterprises,
(iii) funds from international commodity organizations.
(iv) 2 percent levy on the profits of agro-based industries,
(v) 50 percent of Sugar Development Levy,
(vi) 1.0 percent levy on the profits of oil companies,
(vii) Appropriation from government annual budget of not less than 2 percent of the total budget, and
(viii) take-off grant from the federal government.
These will comprise input incentive support and commodity marketing and export activities.
a) Input incentive support: Government incentive support for inputs will be administered in a cost-effective and focused manner to ensure that the intended beneficiaries derive full benefit from the distribution of:
(i) seeds, seedlings, fingerlings, brood stock etc,
(IV) tractors and implements,
(VI) veterinary drugs, and
(vii) agricultural credit. State and local governments are also to be encouraged to subsidize these inputs, as an additional incentive for agriculture.
b) Commodity marketing and export: The development of an efficient agricultural marketing system is being promoted through the provision of adequate market information. The buyer of last resort mechanism built into the marketing system will provide price stabilization effect on the system. The three multi-commodity marketing companies already approved by government will be the fulcrum of this system. The companies which will be private sector-led and managed, but with initial substantial public sector participation, will also ensure quality management and export promotion, in conformity with international quality standards for Nigeria’s agricultural commodities.
Service Delivery Activities
These activities will cover input supply and distribution, agricultural extension, micro-credit delivery, cooperatives and farmer/commodity associations, commodity processing and storage, agro-allied industry and rural enterprise development, and export promotion of agricultural and agro-industrial products.
(a) Input supply and distribution: Government is creating the more conducive environment for profitable investments in the production and distribution of inputs such as improved starter materials, animal health drugs, fertilizers, etc. Fertilizer supply will be hinged on complete privatization and liberalization in the production, distribution and marketing of the commodity. The main role of the government will be to strictly monitor the quality standard of all fertilizers (both local and foreign) to ensure that only certified products reach the farmer. Government will also encourage the use of organic fertilizers to complement the inorganic fertilizers currently in use. The seed industry development program will be reinvigorated and community seed development programs will be promoted to ensure the provision of adequate and good quality seeds to local farmers. The organized private sector will be mobilized, encouraged and given incentives to actively participate in the production of seeds, seedlings, bloodstock, fingerlings, etc, and also to be involved in out-growers mobilization.
(b) Agricultural extension: Agricultural extension is essentially an activity that should be carried out by the lower tiers of government. But given the overriding importance of technology dissemination, all the three tiers of government in Nigeria will be involved in jointly financing agricultural extension delivery and monitoring its impact. Also, extension service delivery will be streamlined through the integration of ADP and state extension services for greater effectiveness.
(c) Credit and micro-credit delivery: The strategies to be adopted will include:
(i) provision and improvement of rural infrastructure to attract investment & financial services;
(ii) integration and linkage of rural financial institutions to the formal banking sector;
(iii) regulating and supervising the growth of non-bank financial institutions with emphasis on savings mobilization at the grassroots;
(iv) expanding the mandate of the restructured Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (NACRDB) to include savings mobilization;
(v) supporting self-help groups in their savings mobilization and credit delivery activities;
(vi) modification of the credit delivery system to include the cooperative and community-based organizations as delivery channels to reduce transaction costs; and,
(vii) modification of terms of credit such as interest rate, eligibility criteria, legal requirement, etc, to enhance access.
(d) Cooperatives and farmer/commodity associations: Resource mobilization and the promotion of group action are the thrust of cooperative activities. This is to take advantage of group dynamics, with its concomitant mutual guarantee, as a strategy for agricultural development. Services which cooperatives can render include the administration of government incentives to agriculture, such as inputs supply, credit delivery and retrieval, commodity marketing, and the pursuit of democratic ideals, in view of the democratic principles embedded in their operations.
(e) Processing, storage, agro-allied industry and rural enterprise development: The use of simple but effective on-farm and off-farm storage facilities and agro-processing technology will be promoted to add value to products and increase their shelf life. The Strategic Grain Reserve Scheme will be modernized, strengthened and upgraded to a National Food Reserve Program, which will enable it to handle all staples and essential food products. This will be the launch pad for the accelerated attainment of Nigeria’s national food security goal. The Buffer Sock Food Storage Scheme of the states will incorporate the use of private storage facilities to maintain a national strategic stock of food that will be needed in times of national food emergencies. It is also crucial to promote and develop agro-processing in the country for the evolution of virile agro-allied industries and rural micro-enterprises.
(f) Export promotion of agricultural and agro-industrial products: Nigeria has comparative advantage in the production of a number of exportable agricultural commodities, such as cocoa, palm produce, rubber, ginger, spices, fruits and vegetables, flowers, shrimps and ornamental fish, cassava products, hides and skin, cashew, gum arabic, groundnuts and cotton (products). In order to diversity the base of the Nigerian economy and widen the market for agricultural commodities to absorb the expected increase in production, there is need to promote the export of these agricultural and agro-industrial products. To facilitate the acceptance of Nigerian agricultural commodities in the international market, including taking full advantage of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), there will be need to develop appropriate capacities and institutional framework within the agricultural sector as well as in other relevant sectors to meet the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) and comply with the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Other Policies, Institutions and Legal Framework
The range of macroeconomic and institutional policies as well as legal framework that affect agricultural investment in particular and agricultural performance in general is wide. The policies broadly cover fiscal, monetary and trade measures. There is also a large body of institutional policies that support not only the implementation of macroeconomic policies but also that of agricultural sector policies. Then, there is a set of national and international legal framework, including bilateral and multilateral agreements and treaties that provide the enabling environment for foreign and domestic private investment, promote international trade and, therefore, promote economic growth.
Environmental concern has increasingly come into focus in the design of policies for sustainable growth and development in Nigeria, as elsewhere in the world. Hence, Nigeria has now put together a set of environmental policies and strategies that are of important relevance to agriculture.
The key components of macroeconomic policies are fiscal, monetary and trade policies.
Fiscal Policies: These focus on budgetary, tax and debt management policy instruments. Budgetary policy influences economic stability and rate of inflation in the economy. These, in turn, influence the climate for the flow of investment, especially foreign private investment. Tax policies that focus on personal and corporate tax rates, tax reliefs, and other tax concessions are key incentives (or disincentives) factors affecting consumption and investment decisions. A favorable corporate tax policy regime enhances after-tax profits and, to that extent, may promote increased investment. A country's external debt burden affects its international credit rating and its capacity to finance public investment. International credit rating affects the flow of foreign private investment while the level and quality of public investment directly affect the flow of both foreign and domestic private investment.
In general, monetary policies refer to the combination of measures designed to regulate the value, supply and cost of money in the economy, in consonance with the expected level of economic activity. Liquidity, interest rates and foreign exchange rates are the channels through which monetary policy influences economic activities. Liquidity is affected by money supply. Money supply influences credit supply and interest rate (cost of capital). Interest rate, in turn, influences consumption, savings and investment decisions in the economy. Basically, the existence of interest and exchange rate differentials, resulting from monetary policy measures, induces substitution between domestic and foreign assets (foreign currencies, bonds, securities real estate, etc) as well as domestic and foreign goods and services (CBN, 1997). Since 1986, the main instruments of market-based monetary policies have included the open market operations (OMO), changes in reserve requirements and discount policy. Open market operations involve the discretionary power of the CBN to purchase or sell securities in the financial markets in order to influence the volume of liquidity and levels of interest rates that ultimately affect money supply.
The sale of financial instruments by the CBN restricts the capacity of banks to extend credit, thereby affecting inflation and interest rates. The reverse is the case when financial instruments are purchased.
These are a very important component of structural adjustment policies. The main focus of trade policies is on measures to regulate export and import trade through such measures as tariffs, export and import quotas and prohibitions. They influence the investment climate in many ways. For example, a liberal trade policy constitutes an incentive for foreign investors who may need to import raw materials and / or export products. But a protectionist trade policy may also serve as an incentive for investors in non-tradable products that are largely locally consumed, or investors in import -substitute products.
Institutions: According to the World Development Report (2002), institutions are rules, enforcement mechanisms and organizations put in place in an economy. Distinct from policies that are the goals and the desired results, institutions are rules, including behavioral norms, by which agents interact, and the organizations that implement these rules and codes of conduct to achieve desired outcomes. Policies influence the types of institutions that evolve while institutions too affect the types of policies that are adopted. Appendix 4.1 presents some of the major institutions that affect or are affected by investment -related policies in Nigeria.
Investment Legal Framework: Investment legal framework provides incentives for, regulates or protects investments, especially foreign investment. According to Aremu (1997), a foreign investor is first concerned with some basic questions like: What areas of business are open to foreign participation? How easy is it to bring capital into the country and repatriate profits and capital from the country? What legal mechanisms exist to protect the investor's personal business interest? These questions underscore the importance of investment legal framework. Some of the important domestic investment legislations and international legal arrangements governing foreign private investment are as contained in the NIPC Act 16 of 1997
Environmental Policies: Environmental policies are very important for sustainable growth and development. Hence, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) produced a revised version of the national policy on the environment in 1999.
The goals of National Policy on the Environmental is to achieve sustainable development in Nigeria, and, in particular, to:
(i) secure a quality of environment adequate for good health and well being;
(ii) conserve and use the environment and natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations;
(iii) restore, maintain and enhance the ecosystems and ecological processes essential for the functioning of the biosphere to preserve biological diversity and the principle of optimum sustainable yield in the use of living natural resources and ecosystems;
(iv) raise public awareness and promote understanding of the essential linkages between the environment, resources and development, and encourage individual and community participation in environmental improvement efforts; and
(v) Co-operate in good faith with other countries, international organisations and agencies to achieve optimal use of transboundary natural resources and for an effective prevention or abatement of transboundary environmental degradation.
The strategies to be adopted include:
(i) addressing the issues of population growth and resources consumption in an integrated way;
(iii) setting goals for the stabilization of national population at a sustainable level;
(iii) integrating resource consumption and demographic goals with the other sectors and economic objectives;
(iv) monitoring trends in population and resource consumption and assessing their implications for sustainability;
(v) encouraging and involving the private sectors, NGOs and the public in the implementation of strategies and actions aimed at achieving stated goals;
(vi) the prevention and management of natural disasters such as flood, drought and desertification that more directly impact on the lives of the populace;
(vii) integration of population and environmental factors in national development planning;
(vii) solving public health problems associated with rapid urbanisation and squalid urban environments;
(ix) prevention of the depletion of forests through judicious search for and adoption of alternative energy sources; and
(x) Control of the demands and patterns of land resources usage.
- Cassava Production & Processing (10% cassava flour mandatory in all baked foods)
- Cocoa Production & Processing (Presidential initiative to encourage production & local processing of cocoa, integrated into UBE program of government.
Agricultural Entension Services
Agricultural Engineering & Irrigation Activities
Animal vaccine production
Agro -chemicals manufacture
TOTAL INVESTMENT UNDER THE SECTOR
Agriculture is now an exciting sector. Today major local and international investors are investing in this new agriculture sector, with $5.6 billion in investments. The number of seed companies alone has risen from 5 to 80 within three years.
Presently, the agricultural sector grew by 9.19% (year-on-year) in Q 3 of 2014, up by 2.7% points from Q3 of 2013. The agricultural sector grew by 38.53% between 3rd and 4th quarters of 2014, with crop production being the main driver, with a growth of 43.5% .
RECENT & PROPOSED INVESTMENT
$5 Billion worth of investments in fertilizer manufacturing currently ongoing by Dangote Group, Indorama, Notore Chemicals, and others.
Olam has invested $70 million in mechanized rice farm.
Dangote to Invest $1 Billion for large scale rice production
Teragro (a subsidiary of Transcorp Group) has established a $6 million plant to process oranges into concentrates.
CONTRIBUTION TO GDP
At the moment, agricultural sector contributes 47 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is responsible for 10 per cent of its export earnings.
Foreign direct investment inflows are currently at $6.1 billion and the GDP is growing at a rate of 7.71 per cent, making Nigeria the fastest growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa.
General IncentivesPioneer status
Tax Relief for Research & Development
Minimum Local Raw Materials Utilization – Tax credit of 20% for 5yrs to industries that attained minimum levels of local materials sourcing & utilization (70% for agro allied)
Agricultural Machinery & Equipment attracts zero % duty (effective Jan 2012).
Corporate tax incentives rebate of 12% shall be enjoyed by Bakers on attainment of 40% cassava blend within a period of 18 months. (eff. March 2012.
Companies in the agro-allied business do not have their capital allowance restricted. It is granted in full i.e. 100%.
Agro-allied plant and equipment enjoy enhanced capital allowances of up to 50%.
The payments of minimum tax by companies that make small or no profits at all do not apply to agro-allied business.
Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) administered by the Central Bank of Nigeria: Up to 75% guarantee for all loans granted by commercial banks for agricultural production and processing.
Interest Drawback Program Fund:
60% repayment of interest paid by those who borrow from banks under the ACGS, for the purpose of cassava production and processing provided such borrowers repay their loans on schedule.
The Federal government has introduced various funding mechanism that will stimulate investments into the sector. The Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reduced the risk in banks’ lending for farmers and reduced the lending rate to farmers. . Banks are lending to agriculture today more than ever before. The share of lending to agriculture as a share of total bank lending expanded from about 2 per cent in 2011 to 5 per cent by 2013 and 9% in 2014.
Bank lending to seed companies and agro-input dealers expanded from $10 million in 2012 to $53 million in 2013 while bank lending to fertilizer companies expanded from $100 million in 2012 to $500 million by 2014.”
N787 World Bank intervention funds to farmers
N50b mechanization support fund for agricultural equipments hiring enterprises;
₦14 billion for the expansion of 2014 dry season farming.;
N10 billion rice processing fund
N500 fund for cotton farmers etc.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Over the past three decades, Nigerian government had initiated a plethora of policies and programmes which were aimed at restoring agricultural sector to its pride of place in the economy. However various efforts at promoting investment and export diversification in the agricultural sector have not yielded appreciable dividend.
Enormous investment and export diversification potentials for generating higher growth in the economy have remained unlocked and unexploited in the agriculture due to a host of constraining factors that must be removed.
THE WAY FORWARD
• Government should invest heavily in rural infrastructure development that will promote private investment in all areas of agriculture and facilitate linkage of agriculture to industry. The rural electrification programme should be intensified to cover all rural villages in the country.
• Improvement in downstream Agricultural Commodity Activities: Primary activities encompassing crop planting and harvesting constitute upstream agricultural commodity activities from which primary commodities emerge. Following these are some essential secondary or post-harvest activities that constitute downstream activities. These secondary activities are important in adding value to the primary product,
improving its quality and rendering it less perishable. In general, downstream commodity activities improve the market opportunities for agricultural products and promote their commercialization, enhancing not only its competitiveness but also the rate of return on their investment. Key downstream commodity activities include: storage, processing into intermediate or final (finished) products, and marketing and distribution through domestic and export trade. Key intermediate supporting services for these downstream activities include adequate infrastructure (physical, economic, and social), efficient financial institutions, adequate human capital, relevant local organizations (such as community-based organizations, farmer organizations, etc.), transport services and commodity grading and quality control services.
• Improve agricultural production, processing and trade through increased access to resources such as land, technology (improved inputs) credit, training. Adoption of modern farming and husbandry practices such as planting of improved seeds and seedlings, application of agricultural chemicals for pest and disease control and tractors to reduce drudgery and enhance yields should be facilitated by assisting the farmers in sourcing improved technologies. Small-scale irrigation in all agro-ecological zones of the country should be promoted and strengthened.
• Government should sustain its drive to achieve a stable macroeconomic environment, which manifests largely in price stability. On the social front, government should ensure security of life and property to attract domestic and foreign investment to the sector.
• Increased support for Agricultural Research and Extension: There is the need to strengthen agricultural research activities through increased and stable funding, proper coordination, strengthening of linkages among research centres as well as adequate training of research and technical staff in specialized skills. Research systems must identify new mechanisms to find out why farmers do what they do, their research needs and priorities.
• Employment and income generation should be enhanced through promotion of diversification of rural economy. Government should support capacity building among small-scale farmers and facilitate linkages with large processors and manufacturers using agricultural commodities so as to develop long-term contractual arrangements among them. Also government should promote value-added agriculture to provide stimulus for wealth creation and employment creation.
• Increased funding of the agricultural sector so as to improve efficiency of institutional agencies for agricultural development. The functions of the agencies should be streamlined to ensure adequate funding for their core functions.
• Environmental Management: Increased investment in the agricultural sector and the resulting commercialization of products will most likely pose increased threat to environmental damage either through land degradation, pollution of the ecosystem by the effluent of processed agricultural commodities or the exhaustion of agricultural resources. Sustaining the agriculture environment will require adopting the following strategies: promotion of proper cultural practices associated with various commodities recommended by developers of improved technology packages. Adoption of post-harvest processing technologies that minimize waste and control pollution of the environment.Use of crop and livestock mix enterprises that prevent and minimize soil degradation.
In conclusion, the potentials for domestic and foreign investment in different agricultural enterprises in the different zones of Nigeria are high, in view of the large population size of the country, the availability of abundant resources and raw materials and the opportunity to earn good returns from investment. Efforts put into ensuring effective implementation of the above recommendations will constitute quick wins in stimulating the flow of investment into the agricultural sector. This will pave way for diversification of revenue sources, increased income, employment generation and poverty reduction in the country.