The National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria(AFAN), Arc. Kabir Ibrahim has flayed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) for lacking current policy to drive agricultural development in the country.
Ibrahim who stated this in an exclusive interview with Daily Independent in Abuja lamented that the ministry lacks some current policy that would give direction in the development of the agricultural sector.
He pointed that ‘The Green Alternative’ (2015-2020) developed by the Ministry under the supervision of Chief Audu Ogbeh as the Minister, had expired since 2020.
He contended that there is no way that the FMARD would work efficiently without a coherent policy guideline and action plan.
Because of lack of policy, Ibrahim accused the ministry of constructing an urban road network with solar powered light and drainage system in Kano metropolis, which he said, was outside the statutory mandate of the ministry.
He also pointed out that the recent leaked memo where the ministry admitted to have constructed a N30 million mosque in an Internally Displaced Persons camp in Borno State, as another case in point.
According to him, “Building of a mosque by the FMARD is not correct. It is outside of its mandate.
“I can assure you that if you visit the place where the mosque is said to have been built, you will not find the mosque.
“The building of the mosque is a charade. For a proper contract, you need the location of the project, timeline within which the project will be completed and acceptance letter of the contractor.
“Since, it is building project, we are supposed to have the architectural drawing, bills of quantity and side layout, showing clearly where the building will be put up. These documents are not available.”
He alleged that the said contract awarded by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was not executed, adding that the money for the project was embezzled.
Speaking in the same vein, Salisu Mukhtar, Assistant National Publicity Secretary, AFAN, said “The FMARD under the current Minister of Agriculture, Muhammad Sabo Nanono, is working at cross purposes with its core mandate of making the agriculture space purposeful and tranquil for agricultural production that will lead to food sufficiency and the restoration of the dignity of agriculture as the mainstay of the economy.
Mukhtar said: “It is on record that the Ministry of Agriculture has been in one crisis or the other since the assumption of duty of the Minister of Agriculture.
“From 2019 till date, there have been issues around the renewal of the Agricultural Policy, the convening of Council on Agriculture, interference with activities of NGOs such as AFAN, protests by contractors for non payment, misinformation regarding allocation of funds for important activities like pest control, false information to the public on mechanisation, the arrant contravention of the seed Act 2019 which guides the Seed System.
” There are issues of uncoordinated distribution of inputs, general mismanagement of the Ministry by alienating some key staff as well as high handedness, doing projects not related to the core mandate of Rural Development, among others.
“The CBN intervention in agriculture though not necessarily contributing optimally to the search for food security is by far more effective than the FMARD.
“The general impression that the mandate of the FMARD is being taken over by so many institutions is the direct result of the ineffectiveness of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, who is always absent from Thursday to Tuesday every week taking trips paid by the tax payers.”
Commenting on the high cost of fertilizer and other farm inputs occasioned by exchange rate, Ibrahim called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene through provision of subsidies to enable farmers to have access to them.
He explained that the cost of one bag of fertilizer would be sold for over N10,000 this planting season against the previous price of N5,500 under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative in the last five years.
Asked about the insecurity plaguing the country and its impact on food productivity, the National President of AFAN, advised farmers to remain stoic and steadfast, while appealing to the government to provide security to farmers to guarantee increased productivity.