From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
Farmers have called on the Federal Government to show its sincerity towards supporting rural farmers and developing the nation’s economy via agriculture.
The farmers including poultry, ginger and fish farmers spoke on Thursday at the Day-2 of the AfroAgriExpo held at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.
Speaking at a Session titled, “Agriculture as an Economy Stimulator: Trending Technologies for Agricultural Sustenance and Development,” representative of Jigna Farms Limited, Ahmed Yero said the prices of farm inputs have soared beyond normal unlike during the previous administration.
He explained that the Growth Enhancement Support scheme initiated by former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Developement, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina was a big fete adding that alot of promises made by the current Minister are yet to be fulfilled.
His words: “They have failed. They have taken us back. Before now, agric productivity was better than the way it is now. Let me give you example, during the Jonathan administration, we were buying fertilizer at 2,500 and it was accessible by all farmers because they have this e-wallet system where they give phones to villagers. Once you get a text, it means you are qualified for fertilizer.
“You don’t need to know anybody. They were doing it indiscriminately. Just go to your local government or collation system, pay your N2500 and collect the fertiliser.”
He added that, “For the past 3 years, fertilizers has not gone below N7,000, many farmers cannot afford it and it’s even scarce. There are so many fake fertilizers now.”
Asked if he has benefitted from the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, Yero explained that despite being a close friend to Thomas Etuh, Chairman of the PFI, people from Kagarko Local Government of Kaduna State have not benefitted from the scheme.
“Imagine if we can’t see it in Kagarko, less than hour drive from Abuja, imagine people in Taraba, Jalingo that are 15 hours away from Abuja, how can they benefit from it. So they have failed woefully on agriculture.”
He called for sincerity of purpose to really reposition the sector.
“The present Minister is not sincere. Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina was sincere. When he says he will do a thing, he will. He won’t tell you he will do seven things, no.”
“This present Minister talked about so many things and can’t do one. That’s the problem. This Minister knows out farm, he has been to our farm but nothing has changed.”
A Fish Farmer, Dr. Jones Ozuzu, lamented how he lost 2000 fingerings during heavy down pour recently but yet to get support from the government.
He alleged that alot of the loans being promoted especially the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) meant for rural farmers have been allegedly hijacked by political farmers.
He pleaded for sincere governments effort in repositioning the sector.
However, the Managing Director, Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Commission (NAIC), Mrs. Folashade Joseph urged the farmers to insure their crops against eventuality.
Mrs. Joseph said NAIC spends more fund on awareness creation and training than payment of claims.
The MD, who was represented by her Deputy, Mr. Bashir Martins asked if Dr. Ozuzu approached the Commision for compensation.
She enquired if the farm was insured by NAIC, adding that such should have been reported to the nearest NAIC office for needed action.
Particiapnts at the conference organised by Nigerians in Diaspora restated their commitment to ensure rural farmers are supported to increase their income and boost rural economy.