Stakeholders in the agriculture sector have berated government, particularly, at the centre for not doing enough to promote the development of agriculture as it remains the major source of providing food on the table of the common man as well as a viable economic booster because of the fact that Nigeria is renown for its strength in agriculture products exportation.
Most of them argued that until the government rises up to the occasion by giving agriculture adequate attention, Nigeria will be lagging behind among comity of nations which are known to be highly productive in the agriculture sector.
Agriculture, which employs over 80per cent of the working population of Nigeria, is the foundation of the economy. It gives not less than 90per cent of export value and more than 50per cent of the national income of the country.
A farmer, Pa Stephen Usigbe, a retired police officer who majors in pineapple, yam and cassava plantation while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune said:”Farming is becoming discouraging by the day. Everyday, we hear on the radio, televison and read on the pages of newspapers that the government is diversifying from oil and that agriculture is the way to go. But the government is not doing the needful in this regards.
“As old as I am, I go to the farm virtually everyday. By now, I believe someone like me should have been encouraged by the government through some basic needs for smooth operations on the farm. I am not really talking about money now, but some machineries which can aid my work on the farm because you will hardly find old men like me who are still working on the farm. I strongly believe I fall in the category of the minority, therefore, I think the government should be magnanimous enough to do what will be making me always look forward to going to the farm”.
Another farmer, Fatai Olagunju Oyeniyi, a civil servant whose yam and cassava farm is located at Balogun Village, off Ologuneru-Eruwa road, in Ido Local Government area of Oyo State, posited that in order for government to really develop agriculture, agric extension officers must be utilised to optimal level.
“There is no way government will develop agriculture without the major role agric extension officers will play. To the best of my knowledge, agric extension officers are the ones saddled with the responsiblity of moving from one farm settlement to the other to assess the operations of farmers and give feedback to the government through the ministry of agriculture in various states.
“I am using this medium to call on government at all levels to please swing into action by putting what they always put down in balck and white into practice. As this remains the only way to fulfilling the agricultural goals set by the goverment”.
Mr David Umeh, a farmer, who cultivates yam and cassava at Alalubosa farm settlement in Ibadan South-West Local Governemnt Area of Oyo State noted that:”Government needs to do more than it is doing in its quest to develop agriculture. There is the need for government to ensure that agricultural subventions for farmers gets to them and put in their best to avert diversion. By doing this, I believe all will be well with agriculture in Nigeria”.
However, In Oyo State, the Commissioner for agriculture and rural development in the State, Mr Oyewole Oyewumi, in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune argued that the state government has been on top of its game in a bid to bring laudable improvement to agriculture in the state.
He noted that a lot has been achieved particularly under the administration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi in the last six years. “The moist important part of it is that, people are beginning to see agriculture more as a business venture rather than the subsistence farming that we have always seen agriculture to be.
“We have been able to sensitise our youths and women and we have also been able to engage them on new ways in which they can apply technology to agriculture. In terms of effect, We are just starting to see the effect of that but I believe that the average man on the street now sees agriculture as a viable and profitable venture in Oyo State.
Oyewole also hinted that:”We have also succeeded in getting the attention of those I would call commercial or industrial users of agricultural products such that we now have a lot of people who are making enquiries about commercial farms for the production of such crops such as cassava, maize and rice.
“We are already in collaboration with Dangote Group for the production of rice. We are also concluding discussions with the Lagos State government in similar version and quite a number of companies are lining up to do that as well”.
The commissioner posited that:”Because of all these activities, We are able to maintain our position. Today, We are still the largest producer of cassava just as it is a known fact that Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the World. We are the protein capital of West Africa, just as we have the largest commercial poultry farms in Oyo State. And in the area of cash crops, We are doing very well”.