By Olayinka Olawale
Stakeholders in the agricultural space have urged the President-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu, to adopt policies and invest in mechanisation and inputs that will boost nation’s food system.
They said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos while setting agenda for the incoming government.
The farmers also urged the incoming administration to involve heads of various commodity associations’ in policy and decision making process to ensure growth and development of the sector.
The stakeholders who congratulated the president-elect for winning the Feb. 25 presidential election said that his emergence would bring the much-needed development to the agricultural sector.
Dr Femi Oke, Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter and South-West Zone, urged the president-elect to be a listening president to farmers and appoint only qualified experts to oversee the agricultural sector.
“We also want him to establish the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Food Security which will deal directly with issues of food, this should be separated from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
“We hope that the new president will keep his promise because it will bring joy and succour to the farmers.
“With Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and all he had done in Lagos State during his tenure as the governor, we are sure of great performance in food production.
“We want him to be a listening president to the farmers and do a lot especially in the area of development of various value chains.
“We want him to bring more investors into the agric space because we are expecting a lot from him,” he said.
Mrs Juliana Ibitoye, Chairperson, Erikorodo Poultry Farm Estate, Ikorodu a suburb of Lagos, urged the president-elect to run an all inclusive government.
Ibitoye said that poultry farmers were facing challenges in the area of inputs, high cost of feeds and inconsistent government policies that affects the day-to-day operation of the sector.
She appealed to the president-elect to review the ban on importation of maize adding that the current production level was too small to meet the need of the sector, thereby resulting in high cost of feed.
Ibitoye said that there was an urgent need for government to formulate policies that would save the sector from total collapse as many farmers were already shutting down due to high cost of production.
“If we look inward, we will see that the quantity of maize that we are currently producing is not enough for farmers in Nigeria.
“The maize farmers even prefer to export it than sell it to Nigerian market and what we have left for us is not adequate for the poultry farmers.
“This is a major issue; we want government to allow us bring in maize to complement want is being produced locally. We want the government to lift the ban on importation of maize,” she said.
Ibitoye urged the president-elect to formulate policies that would revive the poultry sector and save it from total collapse.
“We also want the new government to address shortage soyabean, sorghum and maize because they are not available.
“Presently, the price of feed is very high because the manufacturers don’t have access to all the inputs, thereby making them to increase their price at will.
“This situation is affecting us because if the price of feed increases, it will affect the price of egg and poultry products and it will affect the consumers,” she said.
Mr Hakeem Akinsanya, Chairman, Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, called on the incoming administration to provide storage facilities and inputs for farmers.
Akinsanya said that farmers need government support through provision of inputs to cushion the effect of disaster and climate change.
He also said that farmers can not survive without government’s assistance.
“Without farmers there won’t be food and without food, we cannot live.
“Farmers need continuous assistance in form of inputs supply to mobilise and motivate them.
“If these two areas can be implemented by the new president, we will have less problem in the area of food production,” Akinsanya said.
He, however, urged the president-elect not to lift the ban on importation of maize saying that any attempt to do that would jeopardise all the gains already recorded in the value chain.
“I don’t think it is right for government to lift the ban on importation of maize because it will discourage maize farmers in the country to do more.
“It will also have negative effect on our currency as the naira will continue to depreciate in value,” Akinsanya added.
Mr Raphael Hunsa, Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Lagos, expressed confidence in the capabilities of the president-elect to transform the agricultural space into world standard.
Hunsa urged the president-elect not to surround himself with ignorant advisers and others who may want to mislead his government.
He advised him to rely mostly on God’s help and wisdom to succeed.
Hunsa said that rice farmers need mechanised implements to meet the required yearly demand of rice production.
He noted these tools can be given to the various commodity groups at discounted price, interest free loan to empower them.
According to him, rice is a stable food in the country, it is the most consumed food all over the world but farmers in Nigeria lack the needed tools to provide sufficient food.
“We want the president-elect to help rice farmers with tractor, harvester, thresher and planter because without all these, farmers will not enjoy their cultivation and farming.
“If the new government can provide all these mechanised tools, it will be easier for farmers to provide sufficient food for Nigerians.
Hunsa disclosed that many people are ready to come into agriculture but are discouraged because the sector is not fully mechanised as smallholder farmers still rely mostly on hoes and cutlasses.
“Nobody want to practice farming with hoe and cutlass anymore especially the youth.
“We are in the 21st century and our government must begin to formulate its policies toward it,” he said. (NAN)