BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR.
National Association of Nigerian Traders [NANTS] has once again called for increased budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector in Nigeria’s quest to attaining food security and zero hunger by 2030.
Speaking at an event in Abuja organised by Agriculture Correspondents Association of Nigeria [ACAN], Bar. Ken Ukaoha, President of NANTS, bemoaned a situation where budgetary allocation to agriculture has not exceeded 2 per cent since 2010 till date, in spite of the fact that Nigeria was a signatory to Malabo declaration which recommended that African countries should allocated 10 per cent of their budgets to agricultural sector.
Ukaoha pointed out that the allocation of funds should be channeled to assist small scale farmers who produce over 80 per cent of food consumed in the country.
He canvassed for the allocation of 60 per cent of the agricultural budget to small scale farmers, adding that there was the urgent need to reduce wastages in bureaucracy in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other government institutions.
He also called for inclusiveness in the policy formulation as it relates to small holder farmers, adding that “he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches him.”
The president of NANTS, who noted that social capital investments introduced by government must be targeted at farmers, also lamented the policy somersaults that have characterised the activities of government over the years as well as their negative impact on the development of the agricultural sector.
As part of measures to guarantee food security, Ukaoha urged the government at all levels to revitalise the extension service agents to educate farmers on modern agricultural practices.
According to him, “You cannot increase food productivity without extension service agents with appropriate service delivery. It has gone moribund. Let’s wake it up.”
He further called for the lasting resolution of crisis between herdsmen and farmers in some states in the country to forestall food shortages in the country.
He asked: “What is the future of food security in Nigeria? What is the future of right to food in Nigeria?
“We need to quickly find solutions to these crises beyond the proposed establishment of ranches by the Federal Government.”
Ukaoha who made a case for access to market for farm produce, added that “Nigeria’s economic diversification cannot take place without access to market for farm produce.”
“Move around the country, it is a shame that we still see tomatoes, onions, mangoes and other fruits by the roadsides, welcoming flies. They are eaten by flies, wasting.
“There are post-harvest losses on one hand, and another, small scale farmers cannot sell their produce,” he said.
To this end, he urged journalists to champion the cause of the small holder farmers in the country to bridge the missing link in the agricultural value chain.