Nigerian Farmers set agenda for incoming government

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The All Progressives Farmers Association at the weekend set agenda for the President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu, urging him to develop agriculture to revive the economy.
This came as the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) urged the Federal Government to intervene in the egg glut being experienced in the market, forcing farmers to reduce prices.

President, All Progressives Farmers Association, Chief Ogbo Douglas, who spoke with The Nation in Abuja at the weekend, noted that developing agriculture could create employment for over 60 per cent of the youth.

According to him, the outgoing government of President Muhammadu Buhari has no proportional results to show for the money it released to the agric sector because the fund went into the wrong hands.

He described the beneficiaries of the agriculture loans as political farmers, insisting the next government should identify the genuine farmers that have the land and technical know-how.

Douglas recalled that Nigeria became the giant of Africa through agriculture.

He however regretted that with the advent of oil, the country abandoned its age-long economic mainstay.

The president said: ”The administration has actually made a serious move in making a difference by diversifying the economy into agriculture.

“But much is needed to be done by the incoming administration because most of the money that this administration has spent in revamping the economy through agriculture were channelled into wrong hands.

“They gave the money to political farmers; that is why we don’t have anything commensurate to what they say they have given to Nigeria farmers.”

Describing agriculture as a veritable tool for cushioning the impact of insecurity in the country, he noted that it could reduce unemployment by absorbing most idle youths into the sector.

The president added: “You can imagine why the youth are restive. There is no job for them.

“But I want to assure Nigeria that if this government can pay more attention to agriculture, it is going to take about 60 per cent of Nigeria’s labour force, which we believe that most of these boys and girls roaming the street without jobs will have something to do.”

Members of the association, he said, have positioned themselves to effect a positive change with agricultural development.

He recalled there was a time he made a presentation in Minna, Niger State, which prompted Vice President-Elect, Alhaji Kashim Shettima to direct the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Abubakar to pay a special attention to association.

Douglas noted that Bagudu was assigned to sift the real farmers in the country from the political ones.

Asked to differentiate political farmers from real farmers, he said,

“The political farmers are those farmers who have already structured their land, already have members cluster in all the areas of the federation.

“All we need is the manpower. All we need is the assistance from the government. We are farmers that have access to land, we have the equipment to make farming thrive in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of the association, Mr Godwin Egbebe, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Lagos.

NAN reports that egg glut is the situation where the number of eggs in the market or produced is greater than the demand causing an undesirable accumulation of table eggs in the farms or stores.

He said that some states had come to the rescue of famers but they had yet to receive any intervention from the Federal Government.

“States like Lagos, Plateau and Ogun have done tremendously well in coming to the aid of poultry farmers in their states since the lingering egg glut witnessed in the sector.

“Ogun bought 10,000 crates, while Lagos facilitated the mop-up of 300,000 eggs and Plateau also mopped up a considerable amount.

“As an association, we appreciate them but we believe states governments can do more to aid the sector at this critical time.

“For instance, Ogun mopping up 10,000 crates of eggs is a far cry from the state’s production capacity.

“It is just like off taking one day production from a single poultry farm,” he said.

Egbebe, however, noted that in spite of the help these states had given to poultry farmers, it has little impacts on the current situation.

“These few mop ups have not impacted the glut to a large extent because the birds are still laying eggs on daily basis.

“The only way the government can make considerable impact is to mop up completely the eggs we have on ground, so that the remaining ones can be pushed to the market gradually.

“Some state governments have taken the initiative to help us at this stage, but the Federal Government should come in to do more.

“We are yet to get words from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) on the egg-glut even though they assured us to have written to the Presidency on the issue.

“The Federal Government should be able to do something for local farmers to help the poultry industry,” Egbebe said.

The expert, however, insisted that there were many places that these mopped up eggs could be sent to.

“We have a lot of places the government can push the eggs they mop up from the farmers to.

“They can send them to the prisons to augment the diets of prisoners and to government-owned hospitals to aid quick recovery of patients.

“The eggs can also be mopped up and given to Internally Displaced Persons camps,” the expert said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the five-year programme between NEPC, Nicert, Valency Limited and PRO-Cashew is designed to accelerate growth in the non-oil export sector by supporting the Nigeria cashew sector.

He said that the initiative would facilitate a gradual shift from conventional cashew to organic ones which export guarantees niche market and premium pricing.

According to Yakusak the aim of the project is to support the Nigeria cashew sector and increase cashew productivity and efficiency, improve crop quality and improve harvest and post -harvest techniques.

While noting that Nigeria exported 315,677 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts worth 252 million dollars, which accounts for 5.24 per cent of Nigeria’s non-oil export portfolio in 2022, Yakusak said there was the need for value-addition.

“In 2022, our non-oil performance export performance indicated that cashew was the 5th leading non–oil exportable product in Nigeria.

“We felt that we need to encourage this product and ensure that the potential from cashew is better harnessed.

“We exported cashew worth about 252 million dollars in 2022 and with the launch of the project we hope to double it this year,’’ Yakusak said.

He, however, expressed concern that the full economic potential inherent in cashew export had not been harnessed, despite the product being 5th leading non-oil exportable product in Nigeria in 2022.

Yakusak said that the initiative would address issues plaguing the Nigeria cashew sector.

According to him, Nigeria’s cashew export trade was largely hampered by non-adherence to food safety standards, lack of traceability, low yield per hectare, poor practices, ageing trees among others.

On her part, Ms Annabel Kamuche, Group Managing Director, Nicert, a private organisation providing international certification for export products, said that Nigeria could reduce reliance on harmful and toxic chemicals by choosing organic farming methods.

Kamuche said that Nigeria could also promote soil health while creating a healthier and more resilient food system.

“As we continue to face challenges related to climate change and environmental degradation, it is critical that we adopt sustainable practices that minimise harm to the planet and support local communities.

“It is thing of pride for Nigeria that it has started making mark in the usage of organic products where apart from cashew, crops like turmeric, honey sesame, soybean, hibiscus are gaining substantial grounds.

“Nicert is confident that in the coming years, Nigeria will be among the front runners in the global organic sector with more value chains participating in organic agriculture,’’ Kamuche said.

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