Stakeholders Seek Increased Commitment, Budget For Agriculture
STAKEHOLDERS in the agricultural sector have called for more budgetary allocation to the sector by all tiers of government even as they urged government to harness the potentials of farmers in food production and processing.
They said the lukewarm attitude of governments to the agriculture sector was peculiar to states in south south Nigeria.
Local farmers drawn from across the south south geopolitical zone stated this at a town hall meeting in Benin City, Edo State capital, where they decried government’s poor investment in the agricultural sector noting that government has failed to attract investors and promote the enabling environment for agricultural development.
At the meeting organised by an Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), AgroNigeria in collaboration with the Edo state government, Managing Director and convener, AgroNigeria, Richard -Mark Mbaram said the gathering was amongst others to brainstorm on issues affecting farmers in the south south and proffer solutions with a view to boosting investment in the sector.
Fidelis Oliseh, who represented Dr Graham Hefer, Managing Director, Okhomu Oil Palm Plc said agriculture stakeholders were facing unfavorable environment. It was unlike the plantation farmers before the advent of oil, who built the nation from the proceeds of their ventures.
Back to the proverbial Malaysia, Oliseh informed that in 2012, it produced 20 million metric tons of palm oil with the proceeds surpassing Nigeria’s crude oil sales. He said the nation has all it takes to be at the top through agriculture.
It is the duty of the government to provide enabling environment for businesses to survive. However, it has been a mixed bag of stories with land acquisition, which was fraught with communal conflict.
Sometimes, the conflict between the community and companies threatens production and the government is idle; it discourages investment because of fear of being confronted by the host community. “The government has not done anything to support commercial farmers,” he said.
Edo state Commissioner for Agriculture, Abdul Oroh said government has put in place series of agricultural programmes targeted at improving and to boost agricultural development in the state. He said Edo state government has registered over 300,000 farmers in the state government database.
Oroh, who was represented by the Permanent secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Itohan Obayagbona said local farmers in the state have benefited in the agricultural programmes of the comrade. Adams Oshiomhole’s administration to include the 2012/2013 Growth Enhancement Support Scheme.
Others at the meeting including a local farmer, Isaac osawe said government failure to address multiple taxation, unfavorable policies as well as insecurity is the bane of the sectors development adding that increased budgetary allocation for the sector will salvage the sector and further boost agriculture in the country.
“Government has failed to provide large expanse of land, which is needed for arable farming. Land is a major problem for farmers in Edo. When poor farmer like us are seeking loans, we are requested to provide certificate of Occupancy (C-of- O) and Tax Identification Number (TIN) by the government, which is not within our reach as we are only common farmers. In the south, we have seen that government has failed to attract investors and have committed the business of farmers in the hands of politicians rather than local farmers.” He said.