IFAD challenges government on right agriculture policies
The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, has stressed the need for the Federal Government to urgently formulate the right policies on agriculture to take the country out of its current economic hardships.
IFAD, an agency of the United Nations (UN) with its Headquarters in Rome, Italy is committed to the provision of funds to farmers, especially small scale farmers in rural areas in the country. The agency is also involved in financing community development programmes across the country.
Nwanze, who spoke on Wednesday when he paid a visit to Ewiri Farms in Iboro in Yewa North Local Council Area of Ogun State, insisted that the government must not only formulate policies on agriculture, but also ensure strict implementation of such policies. He stressed that government’s poor implementation of policies is the bane to the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
The IFAD President, who charged the government to be more proactive in making the agriculture sector more attractive for the youths, especially young graduates to invest in, also challenged government to depart from just talking about agriculture “without doing anything” and start taking actions in reviving the sector.
He noted that agriculture “is not to produce food, agriculture is a business; it is a profession and a dignifying business, which not only feeds people but generates wealth and more importantly creates jobs.”
Ewiri Farms, which sits on a large expanse of land is owned by Akin Orebiyi. The farm comprises a livestock section, which has over 18,000 poultry birds and the crop section with various crops such as tomatoes, pepper, pawpaw, plantain, vegetables, among others. The farm has a direct employment of 40 people.
Nwanze, who was conducted round the farm with journalists, said: “The government is responsible for providing the basic social infrastructure like good roads, electricity, water and access to financial support policies, those are what everybody wants. Now the population must take advantage of that, if government fails in having the right policies, policies that are consistent, not prices going up today and tomorrow they crash and policies being changed with the government, populations get very stressed.”
He lamented that it was shameful for a country as big as Nigeria, which is blessed with fertile land and more than enough manpower to be spending billions of naira importing foods and urged the youths to create jobs rather than depending on government.
His words, “The nation has awoken to the fact that crude oil first not feed people, we have not gotten better but some people have only gotten richer and the population has gotten poorer.
“We have to go back to the basics and the basics and fundamentals for development in Nigeria is agriculture. I think it is a big shame that a country like Nigeria that is big and totally endowed with so much land, good climate, rainfall, sunshine, rivers and people, population of youthful men and women, is importing food, spending billions of naira, actually trillions of naira importing food when we can produce it. I hope our youthful population will wake up to the reality that agriculture is a long term investment and we should get back to basics.
“Government cannot provide jobs for Nigeria’s 175 million population, it is impossible, if a government employs more than 15 per cent of its population, it will go bankrupt so the rest must find jobs and create jobs themselves”.
“Nigeria is one of the largest beneficiaries of IFAD financing in the whole of Central Africa. We have several projects in many parts of Nigeria, in fact, in the community development programme, Ogun State was part of it out of the nine states that benefited from it. There are other programmes that deal with several aspects of farming, livestock poultry and so on that the country is benefiting from. IFAD has financed programmes on rural community development, currently we have a programme on value chain, rice, maize and sogium. It is a shame that this country is importing maize when we can produce it in abundance.
“Nigeria has benefited tremendously from IFAD and these are farmers in rural population, rural farmers, but unfortunately Nigeria is big and you cannot tour around every state and of course the Federal Government decides the states for us to implement these programmes.”
In his brief remarks, the Chairman of Ewiri Farms, Orebiyi, listed lack of infrastructure and access to funds as some of the challenges facing the agricultural sector, disclosing that majority of farmers in Nigeria were still practising the traditional methods of farming instead of mechanised farming.
He urged government at all levels to partner with farmers, especially small-scale farmers to ensure rapid development in the sector, saying:”It is about expecting not so much from government but how we can partner them to develop agriculture in the country.
“One of our challenges is infrastructure, the roads are bad even when you are through with your products going to the market is a great challenge.