Why Buhari, Jonathan, others’ investment in agric sector failed – Farmers
***say current food prices an embarrassment
As fear of food insecurity in Nigeria continue to heighten, farmers across the country have linked the failure of government’s intervention programmes in the agric sector to the non-involvement of key stakeholders in the sector while developing the programmes.
They noted that despite all funds expended in the sector, the price of commodity keeps rising with Nigeria always among the hotspots of global food security concerns.
The farmers raised the concern during a roundtable discussion themed ‘Food Security in Nigeria: Nurturing Sustainable Development’ organised under the auspice of Agriculture Development Project (ADP) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The parley was attended by stakeholders in agric value chain including, seed producers, fertilizer producers, mechanization service providers, technology/Innovation support services, rice, maize, wheat, maize, cassava farmers among others.
Speaking, convener, Agricultural Development Project, Sadiq Umar Daware, said most of government programmes and projects since 1960, including that of
Muhammadu Buhari’s administration have all been bedeviled by the same twin evil of poor policy formulation and faulty implementation.
According to him, if the right steps were taken, Nigeria could feed itself and many other countries as agriculture used to be its main economic mainstay.
“As key players in the agricultural space, we are not unaware of the many laudable projects and programmes by successive governments since independence. However, we have noted with great dismay that from the Regional Agricultural Programmes (RAP) under the administrations of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa from 1960-1966 to the very recent Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, they have all been bedeviled by the same twin evil of poor policy formulation and faulty implementation. Unfortunately, despite this glaring reality, all successive governments have opted for this faulty modus operandi which has always ended in failure of monumental proportions.
“We cannot continue doing the same thing while expecting a different outcome”, he stated.
While commending president Bola Tinubu for declaring state of emergency on food security, Daware said the current high price of food is an embarrassment to the country.
He added: “Armed with history and our cognate experience, we the concerned stakeholders in agricultural sector have decided to rise to the task instead of standing aloof and waiting for another failed intervention. Therefore, after due consultation with stakeholders in agriculture of like mind, we have decided to bring together all active players along the entire agricultural value chain of interest by the current administration to a round table where we could come up with a common position that aligns all moving parts within the agricultural value chain for a sustainable and profitable engagement with the government.
“We came together, discuss, deliberate and come up with recommendation to the government on how best we can be able to handle agriculture in Nigeria and get out of this mess. We are seeing today that a bag of maize cost around N65,000 to N70,000. This is an embarrassment to the nation, and embarrassment to every farmer in Nigeria. We are just above 200 million Nigerians. How many hectares do we need to cultivate and produce what we can eat in Nigeria, so to me is something that is doable”.
President, National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), Anibe Achimugu, said lack of access to good quality planting materials, high cost of farm inputs, fertilizer, agro chemicals were some of the challenges faced by farmers.
While stressing the need for farmers to be brought to the roundtable when developing intervention programmes, he stated: “We could do a lot better than what we’re doing. For instance, the flooding that has occurred in recent times has affected smallholder farmers in a great deal. It has also impacted on food security of the nation.
“We talk about lack of access to good quality planting material, that is seed. We also have high cost of inputs, fertilizer, agro chemicals, and so on and when you put all these things together, it means that the country is actually struggling to meet its food requirements. We are not self- sufficient and of course, we are trying to say that, a lot of the things that we import can actually be produced here locally in Nigeria.
“For several years now, you’ve had more than 20 interventions in agriculture but these interventions have not in any way
impacted in the way and manner that they ought to have.
“We want this interventions to be sustainable and the best way to do it is to walk through those that actually are practitioners. We’re saying that if we’re not called to the roundtable, if we’re not called to develop these policies and interventions, then obviously when it comes to implementation, there will be serious gaps.”
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.