This is a distress call on senator ABDULAZEEZ Nyako, Hon Sadiq Dasin, Hon Abdulrazaq Namdas and Hon Adamu Kamale who to me are Adamawa legislators at at the national level that have been working tirelessly with some of their colleagues by initiating and fine tuning policies and programmes that will move this nation forward.
It’s in the light of the fact that they take legislative business with all the seriousness and the urgency it deserves that informed this clarion call on them to assist in saving our masses from starvation due to poverty by putting in place far reaching agricultural policies and programmes through in depth legislation that could bring about quantum leap in our quest to produce enough food for growth and development.
Let me start by saying that I have watched with keen interest the qualitative legislation of the four both in the chambers and out the chambers of the National Assembly. I’m highly impressed with what they have done so far in the National Assembly and in their respective constituencies.ADVERTISEMENT
Distinguished senator and Honorable members, agriculture plays a central role in the development of the nation. There is no way a hungry people will contribute meaningfully in the mental and physical development of the nation. I have tried the executive branch by dusting a a report tagged blue print for Agricultural growth of Northern Nigeria, but it felt on deaf ears. It will be recalled the Northern governors forum had constituted a committee that produced a blueprint for the Agricultural development of Northern Nigeria sometime in2002, with Audu Ogbe, Admiral Murtala Nyako and Dr Shettima as resource persons. I was the secretary of the Committee. The blueprint was submitted for implementation to the 19 Northern states. It just gathered dust on the shelves. When Nyako became governor I reminded him of report and even submitted a copy to him.
It will interest Distinguished senator and Honourable members members to know that the report even if I say it myself was well researched and comprehensively produced. If the Northern Governors had taken the time to implement the report, it would have put Nigeria in agricultural map of the world. When Audu Ogbe became the minister,I took the report to him, but it was a Herculean task seeing him, but I did submit the report with the Executive summary with my card to his PA I had made it very clear to his PA that I was not looking for anything, but for him now being in good position to execute the blue print. Since I didn’t hear from him I now wrote an open letter to the minister which was posted on this thread and published on two national dailies namely the leadership and the nation newspapers.
Since these efforts had not yielded the desired results, I have decided to channel my energy to the legislative branch of government for succour. Based on your antecedents sirs of being very good legislators that articulate not only the interest of this vast country, but also factor the interest of North and Adamawa state, I therefore deem it fit to draw your attention to this important sector of our life with a view to working assiduously with your colleagues for the purpose of putting this important sector in the front burner thereby lifting us from our economic quagmire into nation flowing with milk and honey. Some of you, especially senator Azeez and Hon Dasin have started addressing this issue by distributing farming inputs and implements in your respective communities. Kudos to also Gov Bindow who had procured tractors and water pump and distributed to all LGAS. The Gov should be commended because the last time the govt bought tractors was more than 20 years ago!
I don’t want to bore you with the contents of this report which I will make available if need be. My primary concern now is the state of our agricultural development. I want to state here that I support the decision of PMB to close our borders which stopped the importation of foodstuff thereby making our locally produced food stuff attractive . With the closure of the borders and the high tariffs placed on imported goods coupled with the devaluation of our currency, locally foodstuff are now being sold at appropriate prices and local farmers now make profit. Hitherto the imported foodstuff that flooded the market which were superior to ours, made a lot farmers including myself to abandon farming. I was a big time commercial farmer. At a particular season in 2010, I was able to produce 1000 bags. Because there was no appropriate pricing with the cheap foreign rice in the market, there was no way I could sell at open market and break even or make profit. Luckily at the peak of the cultivation of the farm , I dragged Nyako to the farmer. So eventually when I wanted to dispose of the commodity, I reached out to govt and luckily Gov Nyako bought it for govt to use as seedlings at the cost N5500 per bag that was how I was able to make profit as it was then sold at open market at N3000 per bag.
Having realized that govt hadn’t put in place policies that will make agriculture viable and profitable I abandoned farming for 4 years. I’m now back to a hobby I cherish more than anything else. This is because of the attractive policy of closing our borders and placing high tariffs on imported food stuff. But that is the first step. There are equally important policies that need to be factored before agriculture occupies central role in the production chain. My able legislators please look in to these problems bedeviling agricultural production with a view to addressing them.
The financing of the sectors leaves much be desired. This govt came with their anchor programme where CBN through Bank of agric will make funds available to our poor farmers to assist them. For more than six months now the project is yet to take off. The farmers have waited for too long and have missed out in the rainy and dry farming seasons . Another veritable source of funding of agric with low interest rate is Bank for agric. I had secured the facility twice now. Since PMB came to power the facility has been frozen thus stagnating agricultural growth using that window. I had to secure funding from my commercial bank at high interest to partake in this year’s dry season farming.ADVERTISEMENT
There is the acute shortage of farming inputs and implements and where they are available there are either exorbitant or beyond the rich of the common man. Please just like Gov Bindow had done by procuring some farming implements, the FGN should flood the system with farming inputs and implements . Farming inputs such as fertilizers are quite exorbitant. I had buy a bag at N7500. Where will a poor farmer get this kind of money. My conclusion is for the govt to find a way of subsidizing agricultural inputs and implements as being done even in rich and powerful nations.ADVERTISEMENT
Finally the post harvest issue. Farmers having put in their efforts to produce food are left at the mercy of market forces. As it is, government has not put in place a mechanism for procuring excess food stuff at appropriate prices. Because of the present policy of govt of protecting our local farmers by closing our land borders to stop influx of food stuff and also placing high tariffs on imported foodstuff, a lot of people have gone in to food production. Here in Adamawa state, the people involved in dry season rice farming, has grown astronomically. Something has therefore be done to motivate these farmers to grow more food by absorbing the large quantities of these produce. Luckily the silos have been constructed in most states to store food. They are now lying idle with nothing inside after spending Billions of Naira to construct them.
My highly esteemed legislators these in a nutshell are the challenges facing most of our farmers in agricultural production. I therefore enjoin you to use your legislative acumen to present a template to save our agriculture from further descend and uplift it which will not only address massive hunger in the land but go along way in Putting us in the map the one of the richest agricultural nations of the world.
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I wish you the best as you hearken to this clarion call to move the agricultural sector to another level.