POLICY DISCOURSE: A VERITABLE VENTURE
More than we can admit or realize, our lives are governed by policies. Policy is one of the structural frameworks that govern day-to-day activities. For example, in Nigeria, some people could not purchase or eat imported foods because of the government’s policy that prohibits it. Similarly, the ban on maize importation has affected maize farmers, poultry farmers, feed millers, and other stakeholders. Kindly check https://pilafui.org/policies/awareness-and-perception-of-poultry-farmers-on-agricultural-policies-in-nigeria1/ for poultry farmers’ awareness and perception of agricultural policies in Nigeria (Policy brief). Policies play a central role in the lives of people.
Policy discourse can therefore be succinctly referred to as the constructive engagement of stakeholders to strengthen the policy process for it to effectively respond to the needs of stakeholders. The stakeholders in the policy process are different depending on the type of policy but the stakeholders common to the majority of the policy process are the government, direct beneficiaries of the policy, and other relevant agencies and organisations.
It is expedient for people to be actively involved in the decision that affects them. Stakeholders should be carried along during the different stages of the policy process. Policy discourse involves the consideration of the different views of stakeholders. Although there are some stakeholders or groups that are more powerful or more influential than others, it should be noted that no single group is continuously capable of shaping the entire policy process.
Policy discourse involves a lot of resources- time, skills, money, etc. but it is rewarding. For example, The Innovation Lab for Policy Leadership in Agriculture and Food Security (PiLAF) engaged with stakeholders across the Day Old Chick (DOC) value chain in Oyo State on the 24th of August, 2022. The engagement addressed two objectives viz:
- To undertake a situational analysis of the DOCs value chain in Oyo State, Nigeria.
- To strengthen the policy process to effectively respond to the needs of the DOCs value chain in the state through clearly defined, unambiguous regulations and regulatory processes.
The policy discourse was a step in the right direction as it was well embraced and lauded by the different stakeholders which include the representatives of the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), National Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), Animal Scientists and Veterinary Doctors specialized in poultry research from the University of Ibadan; College of Animal Health and Nutrition, Ibadan; and Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Obafemi Awolowo University. Others include representatives of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN); Day Old Chicks Marketers Association of Nigeria (DOCMAN), breeder farms, and hatcheries. You can read more via https://pilafui.org/policies/review-of-stakeholders-discourse-on-day-old-chick-value-chain-in-oyo-state
Due to the several resources that policy discourse involves, the government (as well as other non-governmental organisations) sometimes tries to boycott carrying out a holistic policy discourse. They neglect effectively carrying along the stakeholders involved and in most cases, those policies bring untold hardship to the people and eventually end up unsustainable.
Policy discourse is crucial in all the stages of the policy cycle for the policy to be successful. It is a veritable enterprise that can achieve a win-win situation for the different stakeholders and as well achieve sustainability.