As Nigeria’s food production continues to face challenges coupled with skyrocketing food prices across the country, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Thursday, alleged neglect of farmers’ plight by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The allegation was contained in a statement signed by the Assistant National Publicity Secretary, Salisu Mukhtar, where AFAN alleged that the Ministry under the leadership of Mohammed 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.”
According to AFAN in the statement, the Ministry of Agriculture has been in one crisis or the other since the assumption of duty by the Minister.
The statement reads in part, “From 2019 to 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 mechanization, the arrant contravention of the Seed Act 2019 which guides the Seed System, 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, etc.”
The statement also pointed that, “The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, intervention in agriculture though not necessarily contributing optimally to the search for food security is by far more effective than the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“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 HMA who is always absent from Thursday to Tuesday every week taking trips paid by the taxpayers.”
AFAN under the leadership of Arc Kabir Ibrahim also claimed that “The President is very passionate about Agriculture as everyone knows but it is very clear that the continued stay in office of the current HMA is detrimental to all the gains made so far.
“It is sad to note that the farmers buy fertilizer at an exorbitant price in the Market including the PFI 20:10:10 which will be sold at N9,500 this year from its former price of N5,500 in the last five years without any move by the FMARD to provide succor to the farmers.
The statement also accused the Minister of ‘antagonizing’ farmers using the factional Farouk-led AFAN caretaker committee and not recognizing the elected executive of AFAN under Arc Kabir Ibrahim, “It is alarming to note that the HMA is rather busy antagonizing the farmers by asking the Agencies under him to recognize his surrogates from Kano as leaders instead of the duly elected Executives led by Arc Kabir Ibrahim.
“The so-called leaders the HMA supports took the AFAN leadership to Court and the suit before Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Court 09, Abuja has not yet been decided upon but because of disrespect for the court and lawlessness, they in cahoots with the HMA still parade themselves as AFAN leaders.
“This goes to show that the HMA is not at all conversant with the law, the limits of his area of competence when it comes to dealing with NGOs and Leadership ethos generally.”
The statement also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to look into the alleged activities of the Minister that have impacted negatively on farmers.
“In order to incentivize the farmers to continue the hard work of providing food at an affordable price to the nearly 200,000,000 Nigerians we appeal to the President to look into the activities of the HMA now”, the statement concluded.
However, the Minister has denied similar allegations leveled against him in the past for taking sides with any faction of AFAN as he neither interferes in AFAN’s activities nor having anything to do with the issue of leadership in AFAN.