By CHIBUZOR EMEJOR,
Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Mohammed Monguno, has canvassed the separation of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development budget from other Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Monguno who stated this at the weekend in Abuja during the oversight visit of the Joint Session of the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture, called for partnership between the legislators and executive to achieve this purpose.
He explained that agricultural activities are time-bound and “the rains don’t wait.”
He pointed out that the late releases of funds to the ministry have seriously affected agriculture development and production, which in turn has negatively affected Nigerian farmers.
According to Monguno, “There is the need for the executive and legislative arms of government to collaborate to make sure that agricultural budgetary issues are removed from national budget in view of the fact that the issues affecting agriculture are time-bound.
“Rains don’t wait. There is the need for the executive to submit agriculture budget separate from other ministries, so that the budget will be considered and passed. It will fast-track the sector and hit the ground running.”
He further called for the amendment of the Public Procurement Act, adding that certain provisions of the Act have become a clog in the wheel of progress of the Ministry, which in turn, have affected food productivity in the country.
Also speaking, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the releases of the funds for agriculture should coincide with the time of planting and production.
Ogbeh said the Federal Government would soon privatise and commercialise Bank of Agriculture(BoA) to enable farmers to access funds at single digit interest rate.
He explained that when the privatisation of BoA is completed, that farmers would own 40 per cent of the shares, Central Bank of Nigeria 10per cent, Federal Ministry of Finance 10 per cent and other institutional investors 40 percent.
He decried a situation where Nigeria has less than 15,000 functional tractors, adding that the Federal Government would soon take delivery of 400 tractors to boost agricultural mechanisation in the country.