BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR.
Federal Government has paid N2.4billion as compensation to poultry farmers whose investments and farms were ravaged by Avian Influenza over the last four years.
Dr. Onallo Akpa, Director General of Poultry Association of Nigeria [PAN] revealed this in Abuja at the maiden summit organised by Agriculture Correspondents Association of Nigeria [ACAN].
Akpa who debunked the rumour making the rounds that the money for the compensation has been embezzled by government officials of the present administration, said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the payment of N1.8billion to the affected poultry farmers across the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja.
He noted that the first tranche of the compensation was paid by the immediate past administration, adding that over N500million was paid to the affected poultry farmers through the Federal Ministry of Finance.
According to Akpa, “I am not a politician and all members of PAN are not politicians. I want to set the record straight.
“Our attention has been drawn to the publication that alleged that over N2.8billion was part of the money said to have been embezzled.
“As a representative of poultry farmers, that in the last four years, before the advent of this present administration, there was an outbreak of Avian Influenza.
“When there was an outbreak of Avian Influenza on our farms, the government intervened and de-populated the birds and then paid compensation.
“Before this present administration assumed office, a compensation of over N500million was paid to some of the affected poultry farmers during the outbreak.
“80 per cent of farmers were not compensated. In the last three years, we have taken our cry to the government and early this year, over N1.8billion was paid to the affected farmers.
“All the names of the poultry farmers affected were computed and the money was credited to their bank accounts.
“It was paid on the approval of Mr. President through the Federal Ministry of Finance.”
Also speaking, Mr. John Oba, Chairman of ACAN, urged the government to make soil testing affordable and accessible to smallholder farmers for increased productivity.
Oba further underscored the need for provision of extension service agents by government to boost food productivity and guarantee food security in the country.
He also appealed to the Federal Government to put in place sustainable market mechanisms for farmers, adding that government needs to buy-off farm produce from farmers during glut to guarantee farmers’ investments and prevent post-harvest losses.
Commenting on the objectives of ACAN and the Summit, he explained that ACAN “is a network of media professionals from the print, broadcast and online. It was created to effectively report activities of every stakeholder in the agricultural sector play the watchdog role and convey concerns of the rural farmers to the policy makers across the three tiers of government.
“Also, we are setting a precedent by bringing together core stakeholders in the sector to set in motion an annual event that would help ACAN set the agenda for the development of the sector.
“This summit with the theme: Agricultural Value Chain Development: A Missing Link in Nigeria’s Economic Diversification Narrative,” would enable actors in the sector x-ray challenges, outline achievements, project future plans and proffer solutions.”
“The summit will enable the association advance ethics in agricultural reportage; make agricultural news in Nigeria more acceptable, accessible and reliable for planning and policy making.
“We have the mandate to promote investments in agriculture and support the global goal to end hunger by 2030 through reportage that will address needs of the farmers and promote agriculture as a business.”