Don wants government to subsidise agric inputs
Vice Chancellor (VC), University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Charles Arizechukwu has canvassed subsidies for agricultural inputs in Nigeria.
Arizechukwu, a guest speaker at the 21st yearly lecture of Agricultural Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) Ilorin, yesterday, spoke on the topic: Agricultural Policies in Nigeria: Unlocking Full Potentials by Identifying Challenges and Solutions.
He said: “Generally, a major problem inhibiting investment in agriculture remains the escalating cost of major farm inputs. The average prices of major farm inputs such as hoe, machete, sprayer, tractor and agrochemicals have been rising over the years. The price hike is as a result of instability in factor markets, arising from instability in macro-economic policy actions, leading to inflationary pressures, high interest rates, and volatile exchange rate.
“Invariably, the deficiency in macro-economic policy environment constitutes a major constraint to the growth of investment in production of agricultural inputs and products.”
He lamented the high interest on loans for agricultural production in Nigeria, unlike in other climes.
Speaking on non-availability of required labour, due to 90 per cent reliance on human labour in Nigerian agricultural system, he said the supply of labour is affected by unending migration of able-bodied youths from rural to urban areas, thereby creating labour shortages, especially during land preparation, weeding and harvesting.
Speaking on inadequacies in past government policies and programmes, he said: ‘’Past attempts at improving agricultural production in Nigeria, such as the Operation Feed The Nation, the Green Revolution Programme and other laudable interventions in the sector, emphasised increased production without commensurate efforts at post-harvest management and industrial utilisation.
Arizechukwu urged the Federal Government to reform and align the financial sector to increase their lending to agriculture through the Central Bank OF Nigeria (CBN)
The Executive Director of ARMTI, Dr. Oladunni, canvassed proactive government’s policies in agriculture to make Nigeria a leading player in the sector.