Former Head of State, retired General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the King of Brass in Rivers State, Chief Alfred Diete-Spiff and the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, have identified absence of infrastructural facilities, effective insurance packages, access to finance and absence of quality inputs and ready markets as some of the problems confronting agricultural development in the country.
They spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2nd Daily Trust Agric Confab that began yesterday in Abuja.
The former head of state, who narrated how he lost milk concentrate while transporting it from Kwara State, added that Maizube yoghurt produced by his farm, Maizube Farms Limited, in Minna, Niger State may not be available for the next couple of months because the input they used in making the yoghurt is not in the market.
“The vehicle was bringing about 5000 litres of milk from the farm, and it broke down because of the road and unfortunately the cooling system of the vehicle got bad and the milk got spoilt. We had to throw it away.”
He attributed the incident to bad infrastructure.
General Abdulsalami also noted that his farm had a very bad experience this year because of infestation by insects.
“We had to spray the farm two times and we discovered the insecticide and pesticide we were using was ‘jabu’ (fake); maybe it had expired or the mixture went wrong somewhere,” he said adding that farm inputs supplied in the country must be regulated.
On his part, the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, who also spoke on how absence of infrastructural facilities like roads was affecting agricultural development, recalled how his pineapples worth millions of naira got rotten while on transit to a company in Ogun State.
Former governor Attah said he was the largest producer and exporter of pineapple but when he could no longer supply the produce to foreign countries because of some reasons, a company in Ogun State requested him to be supplying them but that because of the bad road, the produce one day got rotten on the road.
Chief Alfred Diete-Spiff, the King of Brass in Rivers State also spoke on the importance of insurance for farmers, saying they are exposed to various risks.
He narrated how he was scared away from farming, explaining that his brother once planted yams in his farm but before he could harvest it, thieves invaded the farm and stole everything.
Chief Diete-Spiff said the incident scared him away from farming and called for reliable insurance packages for farmers.
Speaking earlier, Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbeh, said government has commenced implementation of the agricultural road map, which he said, included provision of inputs like improved seeds and fertilisers, among others to the farmers.
As part of the implementation process, the minister, who was represented by Alhaji Abdulazeez Misbau Olumuyiwa, said the Bank of Agriculture is being recapitalised, saying the process will be completed before the end of the year to enable farmers have easy access to credit facility.
While commending Daily Trust for organising the event, he said the federal government made extensive use of inputs from the Daily Trust agric conference in preparing the road map tagged ‘The Green Alternative’.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief, Daily Trust newspapers, Malam Mannir Dan-Ali, said Daily Trust has been in forefront in the promotion of agriculture in Nigeria, noting with delight that the sector is now seen as agribusiness which can sustain itself, making it more attractive.
He said by next year, government would not need to campaign for people to get involved in agriculture because its practice was no longer archaic.