In recent times, because of the renewed clamor by government for Nigerians to return to agriculture, and efforts to get it right, government has been making farm inputs available to farmers across the nation either as seeds or equipment.
But despite this many deliberate attempts to yield meaningful results, the reverse has been the case as some politicians and political farmers have most times hijacked this benefits meant for the real rural farmers for their selfish gains; either to resell or for their relatives. Reports across the nation indicate that these political farmers have consistently denied farmers these inputs thereby defeating the purpose for which they were provided.
Recently in Abuja, at an event titled; National Symposium on Agriculture, organized by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism in collaboration with The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Miss Asma, a farmer in Kaduna State, lamented how a rice milling machine, acquired and subsidized by the Federal Government for rural poor farmers was accessed and hoarded by a politician only to be sold at an exorbitant price to a genuine farmer.
The stories are almost the same every were; even at Ayedoto Farms in Ojo area of Lagos State, politicians have been seen selling federal government subsidized farm inputs to genuine farmers. There is also a case in Cross River State, Southern Nigeria, where a politician who is not a farmer used his influence to hijack a tractor that is meant for rural farmers and parked in his compound for years; and till date, its whereabouts remain unknown to many.
We appreciate government efforts towards revamping agriculture. We welcome the deliberate moves by the federal government to make agriculture a veritable means of livelihood especially for rural dwellers and as a means of job creation for small and medium scale enterprises.
But we condemn in strong terms the attitude of politicians towards government inputs for farmers. The diversion of these farm inputs, meant to address the challenges being experienced by farmers in these areas and to alleviate their sufferings while contributing meaningfully to the nation’s GDP must be stopped as this is a clear case of economic sabotage.
The provision of farm inputs to the rural poor by government aimed at addressing food shortages, hunger, starvation, rural-urban migration, unemployment, and attainment of food sufficiency must be encouraged.
Therefore, government must address this ugly trend as soon as possible in order to achieve its goals in the agricultural sector. The government should carry out investigations and bring culprits to book if it must be taken seriously. In carrying out these investigations, farmers should be encouraged to report these saboteurs and after which protected.
Government should also come up with strategies that will ensure that these inputs get to the real rural farmers and small and medium scale enterprises as this is the only way the positive effect of her efforts will be felt.
By Jim Lawson Moses