…calls on govt to urgently assist farmers with quality seeds, other inputs
By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, on Monday, expressed worry over rising food prices and crisis across the country occasioned by several factors.
The National President, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, in a chat with Vanguard described the astronomical rise in food prices as scary and daunting.
According to Ibrahim, it is next to impossible to import food from anywhere else in addition to the economic recession rearing its head in Nigeria today.
Some of the factors that led to the stupendous rise in food prices include the impact of insecurity, novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, flood crisis, poor attention to farmers, #EndSARS protest, fuel pump price hike, high electricity tariff, dilapidated roads, and increased taxation.
He said: “It is quite scary and daunting especially when it is next to impossible to import food from anywhere else in addition to the economic recession rearing its head in Nigeria today.
“As an interim measure, the farmers must be supported with good seeds and inputs to upscale dry season farming to augment their rain-fed production.
“The Federal Ministry of Water Resources should also complete and expand the dams as well as irrigation schemes abandoned for a very long time.”
However, he accused the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for being part of the food crisis as they failed to carry farmers along in its policies and also pointed that some State Governments are not really paying attention to farmers and food production as they fail to walk the talk in that regard.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should be reappraised to function better as the present leadership is clearly short-sighted and incompetent.
“State Governments should be more involved in agriculture as some of them are not walking the talk at all”, he stated.
Meanwhile, he acknowledged that “The Government did its best in supporting farmers through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Anchor Borrower Programme but the targeted farmers are only about 2 million which is definitely a far cry from the 14.5 million farmers in the Government register.”
He also assured that AFAN will do all within its ability through advocacy to ensure smallholder farmers who are the engine-room of food production get what they deserve in order to boost food production, availability, accessibility and affordability.
“AFAN is continually involved in advocacy to attract support for the Smallholder farmers who are the engine room of production but faces some antagonism from the current Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“While we are always urging farmers to assiduously work to bring about food sufficiency we believe that the CBN Anchor Borrower Programme will be more effective if it reached genuine farmers by being channelled through AFAN”, he added.
Speaking on intervention by development partners in the current food crisis that was earlier predicted the AFAN boss said where they are majorly needed is the up-scaling capacity of farmers.
“The Development partners will impact the food system more if they upscale their capacity-building support to the SHFs across the board through AFAN”, he said.
On the current land border closure and biting high cost of food, which some Nigerians are calling for opening order to allow food importation in the bid to tackle the current food crisis in the country, he (Ibrahim) said that option could be more devastating as it would compound the crisis, and also negatively impact the nation’s security.
“We must be careful not to attract an influx of refugees and uncoordinated outflow of our scarce food items if the borders are wide-open”, he stated.