From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
FARMERS in the country have pleaded with the Federal Government to restore the popular Growth Enhancement Support Programme (GES) initiated by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the former Minister o Agriculture and Rural Development who currently preside over the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The farmers, under the umbrella body of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) made the call during a visit to Mohammed Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, recently in Abuja.
AFAN’s new chairman, Alhaji Farouk Mudi, noted that the initiative could be fine-tuned, if at all, there were lapses in the previous version.
According to him, it would boost farmers production, create jobs and increase internally generated revenue for the states.
“Agriculture should be seen as a business and not a cultural practice. It must be structured, developed and financed as a business for us to fully unlock its potentials.” Mudi added
In his remarks, Nanono reminded the group as a private body that should exonerate itself from interference with the Federal, State or Local Governments.
He asked for the group’s support to drive the Agriculture Mechanization Programme of the current administration, stating that the programme would ensure food and nutrition security, create jobs and boost the economy.
He told the newly elected executives of the association led by Mudi that the challenge of feeding the Nation’s growing population and creating a robust economy, food security and jobs would be a mirage without the farmers active involvement, particularly in the mechanization of the agricultural sector.
“It is entirely a private association and should be free from the influence of the Federal, State or Local Government Areas,” Nanono said.
He noted that in the recent past, “those with little or no knowledge of farming or farmers, had hijacked the activities of the farmers for their selfish interest against the goals and objectives of the association.”
The Minister, however, assured commitment of the FG to work with AFAN as major stakeholders in the sector.
He further highlighted three critical components of the ministry’s policy thrust; Mechanization, Research for Improved Seedlings and Effective Extension Services.
In conclusion, Nanono appealed to AFAN to mobilize and sensitize their members, especially in the Local Government Areas to take advantage of the mechanisation project when eventually implemented.