Land, Fund May Hold Up FG Diversification Into Agric | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Land, Fund May Hold Up FG Diversification Into Agric

Posted: Apr 19, 2016 at 3:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase


The Federal Government’s efforts to diversify the economy from oil into agriculture may be stalled by access to land and funding, according to stakeholders.
The stakeholders who spoke to Independent identified land acquisition and funding as obstacles to the success of the new initiative to use agriculture as the plank of diversifying the economy.
They noted that the issue of funding and the long processes of acquiring land may hamper the diversification initiatives of the government.
The stakeholders opined that if the Federal Government really wants to succeed with its focus on agriculture, contiguous lands and funding must be made available to farmers and those who are interested in farming.
Anga Sotonye, an agribusiness strategist, explained that land is very important because without land, farmers cannot produce.
He said government should make land available so that people can have easy access to it and that government needs to fine-tune and reduce the process and bureaucracy of land acquisition and also make it available at affordable price.
He said if government is really serious about diversifying the economy through agriculture, funding must be made available, adding that the funds needed for agricultural processes should be a long-term one.
“Finance is critical and to make things happen, government has to provide enabling environment and support for single-digit interest rate,” Sotonye said, adding that short-term financing will hurt the process.
“So this thing about Nigerian banks giving loans for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and one year will not help. If you want to set up factory going to borrow money at double digit interest rate and at relatively short term will not work,” he said, noting that long tenured financing for upwards of four years is what the farmer needs.
He averred that land is critical as well since farmers need land to plant in addition to finance to procure the necessary seedlings.
“If government really wants to match words with action they really have to start by creating policy that will really work for farmers,” he pointed out, noting that government must wake up to support the agriculture sector for diversification from oil to happen.
Segun Adewumi, National President of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), stated that one of the greatest challenges in the South is that there is no contiguous land, and that the available lands are wooded, so it cannot be tractorised.
“So if we have deliberate attempt of the government to do land development programme and make at least one million hectares of land available for the cultivation of cassava, for example, the diversification will be achieved.”
Specifically, he tasked government to create the enabling environment so as to prosper the nation through agriculture.
Adewumi also said in the area of land, the Federal Government should collaborate with the state and the local government to make tractorable land available to the farmers in a contiguous form.
Corroborating, Demola Fashola, a farmer, said funding and land have been a major challenge to the development of agriculture.
He said now that many people are venturing into agriculture and many are thinking of going back to farm, government should make it a duty to make available land for farming and funding to support the farmers and other people who are interested in farming.
However, Mr. Adeola Elliot, chairman of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Agro Allied Sector, stated that the government is serious with the diversification and that once the budget issue is over a definite programme would be unveiled, adding that even state governments are showing interest to support agriculture.
He said majority of the states are doing their best to ensure they key into diversifying the economy through agriculture. He noted that for instance Lagos, Anambra and Osun, among others, are supporting with land and funding.
According to him, Anambra State is supporting the farmers in the production of rice, while Osun is also giving financial support to farmers.
“We are waiting for the budget and as soon as the budget is released a definite step would be taken. You know the Federal Government does not have its own land. The land is owned by the states, we at the LCCI are also encouraging states and the Federal Government to release funds to farmers,” he said.