By Nefishetu Yakubu, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
President Muhammadu Buhari has, on many occasions, reiterated his administration’s resolve to fight hunger by supporting agricultural activities across the country.
Thus, during the Food Day Celebration in October 2021 at the venue of National Agricultural Showground –Tudun Wada, Abuja-Keffi, Nasarawa State — Buhari said that his administration would sustain interventions in the agricultural sector to boost food sufficiency and grow the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“As a result of the Federal Government’s policy initiatives and innovative funding in the sector, significant progress has therefore been made to improve agricultural productivity since the inception of the present administration”.
“In an effort to diversify the economy, the Federal Government has continued with its renewed focus on the agricultural sector, developed an array of policies, strategies and programmes, notable among which, is the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP), the Green Alternative, with the Anchor Borrowers programme initiative and ban on the importation of some agro-commodities,’’ he said.
According to the president, the initiative is to create economic linkage between smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors and increase agricultural output to reduce poverty, create jobs, assist rural farmers to produce beyond subsistence levels.
Appreciating this initiative, farmers in Edo and in those in the southern part of the country commended the Federal Government, noting that the 2022 farming season was rewarding.
The farmers cited increased yields following the agricultural intervention programmes of the Federal Government in terms of provision of farm inputs and farming equipment to various farmer groups.
At the recently conducted impact assessment of the Federal Government programmes on farmers in the southern part of the country in Benin, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, confirmed that it had carried out a number of programmes, conducted trainings and distributed inputs, seeds, seedlings and equipment to farmers to boost production of farm produce.
Corroborating the Federal Government’s claim, Mrs Joan Obazee, the coordinator of women in agriculture in Edo, said that the programmes and interventions from the Federal Government had impacted positively on women and youths in the state.
“So many of my women benefitted from cashew crackers, cashew seedlings, fish dryers, solar freezers, fertiliser, chemicals and so much more which we shared to women,’’ she explained.
Another farmer from Edo, Mr Emmanuel Ehimika, said that over the years, farmers in Edo had enjoyed a robust relationship with the Federal Government and quite a number of interventions such as roads, solar lights, inputs, equipment, small processing machines and so many other things were distributed to farmers at no cost.
According to Ehimika, Edo farmers has never had it so good in the time past. So many trainings have been held in Edo and in some cases outside the state which have been beneficial to the farmers.
“The programmes are laudable, we have never had it so good. This present administration has been wonderful in terms of agriculture because the real farmers are benefitting from the interventions.
“We are now having trainings in crops that we thought will not do well in Edo for instance, watermelon, ginger, garlic, cucumber, turmeric and red potatoes. We have discovered that Edo is a blessed state that these crops can be grown here.
“So many feeder roads have been constructed and rehabilitated, solar boreholes, solar street lights and so much more,’’ Ehimika said.
Ehimika, however, appealed to the Federal Government to focus on providing processing equipment in 2023.
“We are still very at crude level of processing, a lot of what we produce are wasting because of lack post-harvest handling,’’ he added.
Mr Warrant Akposeye, a cassava farmer from Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, said that the ministry provided a number of feeder roads in so many communities in Bayelsa to improve agricultural activities in the state.
“Before the provision of these feeder roads, it was difficult for farmers after harvest to bring their produce out to the market because there were no access roads and they end up selling the produce at give-away prices.
“But with the construction of these feeder roads, they are able to bring the produce to nearby markets.
“That is a great achievement and I really appreciate the Federal Government for the kind gesture,’’ Akposeye said.
In Rivers, Mr Godwin Akandie, a farmer from Etche community, also commended the Federal Government for the interventions in the root and tuber value chain.
Akandie said: “We are very grateful for the help we have received so far. To be honest, my cooperative society benefitted from the cassava processing machine distributed to farmers.
“We are using the machine ourselves and using to make money for the cooperative society as well’’.
Similarly, Dr Ine-mgen Patrick, a tomatoes and cucumber farmer from Akwa-Ibom, explained that the state had benefitted from quite a number of Federal Government’s intervention through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
“Over the years, we have enjoyed quite a lot of interventions such as roads, inputs, solar lights, seeds and trainings.
“All the workshops have been so impactful, we have been told to take ownership of all Federal Government projects in our domains,’’ she said.
The Director of Agriculture in Edo, Mr Wellington Omoragbon who gave an insight into the ministry’s activities for the 2022 farming season, said that 2022 had been an eventful, fruitful and productive year for farmers in Edo as far as agriculture was concerned.
Omoragbon noted that in the year under review, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture in Edo and Edo Agricultural Development Programme (ADP).
“We carried out several trainings along the various value chains of oil palm, cassava, rice, coconut, potatoes, livestock, aquaculture and fisheries where farmers were also empowered.
“The Federal Department of Agricultural extension services trained 60 Edo ADP extension workers on modern method of farming and introduced them to modern technology for farming in agriculture to equip them to be able to train the farmers.
“Also, we have distributed a lot of farm inputs. In same case they are free and some, they are subsidised.
“On July 14, 2022, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Ernest Umakhihe, inaugurated the distribution of inputs to farmers in Edo.
“Farmers were mobilised to Benin venue of the inauguration where they accessed inputs such as seeds, seedlings, agrochemicals and small scale processing equipment were distributed to them free of charge.
“Amongst small scale equipment distributed included cassava processing machines, oil palm processing machines, cashew crackers and rice harvesters, among others,’’ he said.
He explained that during the distribution exercise, farmers’ groups and cooperative society were encouraged to go into processing for value addition and for more income.
Omoragbon also said that the ministry carried out a lot of rural infrastructural projects across the three senatorial districts of Edo.
“In some rural communities, feeder roads rehabilitation was done while in some others construction of rural roads were carried out.
“In Edo South, a seven-kilometres of road was constructed cutting across Udo, Iguoabazuwa, and ikoro communities in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo.
“Also, fou- kilometre road construction in Evbodia community in Oredo Local Government Area, two-kilometre road rehabilitation in Uromi, several roads at Usen, Afuze, Otuo, Agenegbode and Igara.
“As I speak, a five-kilometer rural road is ongoing at Somorika in Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo.
“In the area of rural water supply, we have provided water to Etete community in Benin, Ovia North East, Uromi, Uwhia and Sabongida-ora, among others,’’ he said.
Omoragbon also said that the ministry had established fish clusters for fish farmers and built a fish market for the farmers in Illushi community.
Assessing the impacts of various Federal Government’s intervention on agriculture, concerned citizens observe that the government has taken a pragmatic action and engaged virile agricultural policies to improve food and nutrition security.(NANFeatures)