From, Babatunde Azeez, Abuja
Chairman House Committee on Agriculture Hon. Tahir Mongunu has urged the Federal Government to separate agric budget from the provisional budget to ensure speedy passage by the legislature.
Mongunu who spoke during the National Assembly committee oversight visit to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on Friday, said the need for a budget that rhymes with the rainy season is important due to the time bound nature of the agric sector.
He also noted that the release of funds to the ministry should be on track, so that they can implement the budget and ensure timely delivery of inputs to farmers.
Mongunu identified need for the legislature and the executive to work together for the purpose of amending the public procurement act to enable the ministry achieve its mandate.
“There is need for the legislature and the executive to collaborate to make sure that budgetary issues concerning Agriculture are removed from the provisional budgetary provisions in view of the fact issues concerning Agriculture are time bound and the rains are not going to wait, so there is need for the executive to submit the budget concerning agriculture different and distinct from other budgets of other ministries so that the legislature approve budget of the ministry in tandem with the fact that agriculture is time bound and the rains will not wait.
“Also with regards with the releases, the releases should also be on track so that they can hit the ground running so that they can execute their budgets on time and the Nigerian farmers can benefit from the service of the ministry.”
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh who received the NASS members acknowledged them for supporting the ministry and urged them to ensure speedy passage of agriculture budgets as the population of Nigeria is growing faster.
He said the present administration is approaching self-sufficiency in staple foods while noting the actions of smugglers are threatening the efforts of local farmers.
He expressed need to take stringent measures on the smugglers as the activities are hurting the country’s economy.
Ogbeh lamented the non-collaboration of neighbouring countries in the fight against the smugglers.
He also appreciated the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria for their role in delivering the anchor borrowers scheme.
He informed the visiting NASS members of ministry’s plan to Privatize the Bank of Agriculture through the Bureau of Public Enterprise, with the aim of making farmers own the bank and bring interest rate on agric lending to as low as 5 per cent.
“We are making quite some headways in agriculture and we have some challenges, but the kind of support you are giving us during budget sessions, and we are sure we are heading in the right direction. We need to move fast as our population is growing.
“We are reaching self-sufficiency with our staple foods, but we are having challenges with smugglers but we need to take drastic measures against them because their actions are hurting our economy badly. Even though our neighbors are supposed to be friendly but their actions are very unfriendly, it is killing the economy and it is leading to job loses. “He added