Mixed Reactions Trail Buhari’s Performance on Agricultural Sector | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Mixed Reactions Trail Buhari’s Performance on Agricultural Sector

Posted: Jun 16, 2016 at 5:01 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase,Lagos



There have been mixed reactions on the performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration on the agricultural sector.


Stakeholders who spoke with Independent admitted that the long time it took the President to constitute its Ministers and also the signing of the budget really affected the sector in no small measures.


They also said the prices of food items which have gone beyond reach of common man and the incessant Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes were another setback to the sector.


Anga Sotonye, an Agribusiness strategist said assessing this administration is a mixed one in the sense that there is a good minister who understands agriculture, but he was however frustrated and has not been able to do his job as he should, because there is no money.


“He has been so frustrated; he has not been able to do his job as he should. Do you know agriculture requires money? In the last one year of Buhari administration there was no budget to run the agriculture Ministry, so how will they drive projects, how will they drive agricultural programmes,” he queried.


“He has good ideas to implement but there is no money to implement them, so you can see that if you want to assess; what will you assess? Say performance, he cannot perform, where is the money? You can’t do magic, you need money to drive agriculture, you need money to subsidise inputs for farmers,” he said.


Sotonye also said planting season has come and gone, but farmers have not gotten the support they should get in terms of input, fertilizers, seedlings and the rest of them.


“Since the Buhari administration come on board, there has been no money, the budget has only been approved finally now, maybe probably in 2017 we can see a lot of things happen. Maybe that is when we are going to access the ministry of agriculture under this administration because no matter how good your thought are, no matter how professional you are in agriculture, if there is no money you cannot drive, you can’t do anything,” he said.


Speaking further, he said the non approval of the budget early has really set agriculture back.


“We need to say it, agriculture really suffered setback in 2016 and that is the truth. I think this situation should never be allowed again, we need to be adequately prepared, agriculture should be adequately financed. We need a lot of money to drive agriculture.”


He also lamented on what was budgeted for the sector in the 2016 budget, stating that it is less than two per cent which was grossly inadequate.


“We need to grow agriculture budget to at least 10 percent of our budgetary allocation, we are not there yet, what come to agriculture is less than two per cent that is grossly inadequate, grossly insignificant. We agriculture strategists and experts expect that more financing should be allocated to agriculture, more funding should be allocated for agriculture.”


He said this is urgently needed so that the country will for once be food secured.


In the same vein, immediate past Chairman of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Agro and Allied Group, Wale Oyekoya, stated that what stakeholders in the sector was expecting within this one year is not what they are getting.


He said food security should be the priority of any sane government, that if citizens are not fed, it is going to lead to so many violences, which is what is happening now.


He said he has performed averagely well that the price of food items has gone so high that it is quite unfortunate that N5000 cannot really feed four nuclear family.


“You can imagine N5000 cannot really feed four nuclear family, that is a problem. That is real food crises in our hand and I hope after the budget has been finally signed now maybe as from next week he is going to do something as fast as possible so that most of the money that is spent on oil and gas can be spent on agriculture to ensure food security,” he said.


Emmanuel Ijewere, Coordinator of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG) said his assessment of this administration is positive especially in the light of the challenges in terms of availability of money.


He said however it took the government too long a time to capitalize on the foundation that has been laid by the former administration.


“He did not start on time, he was slow in starting but since he started things has begin to move because the government has come up with a roadmap for agriculture and this was not just done by civil servants it was done in conjunction with private sector and I believe that, that is the direction to go.”


He said the President is committed agriculture but is currently faced with numbers of new challenges of Tuta Absoluta affecting tomatoes, crisis facing the rice smuggling in Nigeria and also the conflicts of Fulani herdsmen and farmers’ conflicts going on.


“These are some of the issues they have to deal with, we must understand that we need the private sector to assist and the private sector are there, we have been supportive so that agriculture become the primary source of income for Nigeria,” he said.


Femi Oke, Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Lagos state chapter said this administration has performed above average.


He said farmers are hoping that all what has been planned will be implemented so that farmers will be happy.


He said that the fact that he is building on the past administration’s foundation is a right step in good direction.


Segun Adewumi, National President of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) said there are plans on ground and if implemented will be better for the country.


“We understand that the Bank of Agriculture will be empowered with N750million and we heard that Export Promotion Council will be empowered with N500billion, if those things are channeled directly to the farmers, it will elevate the country, though it has not started to be implemented but we know that there is a roadmap and the minister says farmers will be directly involved in the implementation so we know that this year will be better.


“We know the plans, but we are interested about the implementation now, so far so good we are happy with what he is doing,” he added.


Oluwafemi Salami, Managing Director Oamsal Nigeria Limited said to the common man on the street, the prices of common agricultural staples such as garri, tomatoes, rice among others have astronomically jumped up and the menace of Fulani herdsmen destroying farmlands.


He advised that the government should declare a national food emergency and to quickly enumerate farm lands destroyed by Fulani’s herdsman cattle with the aim of re-establishing the farms during this planting season to avert food security challenges as scarcity of food looms.


Salami also said the farmers should also be compensated with inputs, cash, food to survive this year before next harvesting season, adding that government must end movement of cattle in the country, limiting them to ranches.


He also said there is urgent need to look into all existing agricultural policies by calling stakeholders for input to boost local content policies, which he give an example of the  Cassava Bread Policy.