Stakeholders react to President Buhari’s Independence Day speech on agric
Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have expressed mixed feelings following the President Muhammadu Buhari comment on agriculture during his Independence Day speech.
In his Independence Day speech, President Buhari said “our journey to food security and self-sufficiency is well underway. We have made remarkable progress in almost all segments of the agriculture value chain, from fertilizers to rice, to animal feed production. We shall sustain these policies to ensure additional investments are channeled, thereby creating more jobs in the sector. We must not go back to the days of importing food and thereby exporting jobs”.
The Vice President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Chief Daniel Okafor said in the area of fertilizer distribution, the government failed.
He said the business of fertilizer were still controlled by government officials which had made it impossible for farmers to access to it.
“Fertilizer business development in Nigeria is the hands of government officials and who knows who. Nigeria farmers have suffer alot of hardship in areas of quality input, we never gotten anything N5000 as stated by government” Chief Okafor said.
While admitting that the government had made efforts in rice production, Okafor called on the government to provide fertilizer and other inputs and also carry farmers along during policy formulation and implementation.
“Rice, yes government has made a lot of progress. We advise the government to assist and support farmers in areas providing fertilizer and other inputs, land clearing, early agriculture budget, climate smart agriculture is needed, also carry farmers along while during policy and implementation”, he added.
The Chairman of Harvest Feeds and Agro Processing, Goke Adeyemi while reacting to President Buhari’s speech, said “comparing the past with today, evidently, there has been progress. If you look at what has been happening in the past, we virtually imported everything into Nigeria, even things we can produce ourselves we import them, but in the last 3 years, you can see production of some of the staple foods within Nigeria”.
He further noted “while we continue to put emphasis on food security, why not we put emphasis on job security in Nigeria, they go hand in hand, once there is job security, there will be food security, when there is no food security, there cannot be job security.
“What we are saying is that the government needs to take a step further make sure that all produce consumed in Nigeria should be produced in Nigeria. All agricultural produce must have their value chains fully established a d integrated into the manufacturing industrial sector of the economy”.
The National Chairman of the National Association of Grain Storage Practitioners of Nigeria, Chief Eric Ozongwu said though there are fertilizers, but farmers cannot afford.
“Fertilizers are there, but the problem is can the farmers afford it. Fertilizer is on the high side. And once you don’t have fertilizer, you are just wasting your time, it’s as simple as that”, he said.
On border closure against rice importation, Ozongwu said smugglers were still taking advantage of our porous borders to import rice with motorcycles.
“On the ban on importation of rice, am in Lagos currently and the borders are said to be closed, but smugglers still bring in rice because all our borders are porous. People still use motorcycles to bring in rice through our borders.Little effort has been made no doubt, but we just have to be sincere about what we are doing”, Ozongwu noted.