Mr Ken Ukaoha, the President, National Association of Nigerian Traders, has advocated that 60 per cent of agriculture investment in budgets be dedicated to small scale framers to help tackle food security.
Ukaoha made the call in Abuja on Thursday when he presented “The Nigerian Farmers Petition” to Minister of Agriculture representative during World Food Day rally, organised by the association.
The theme of the 2017 World Food day is “Change the future of Migration-invest in food security and rural development’’.
“In order to continue to produce more food for the nation, farmer’s priority concerns must be addressed.
“Small Scale Framers want the government to recognise them in setting agenda for growth and development,’’ he said.
Ukaoha said the petition was articulated to ensure that agricultural policies would effectively target small-scale farmers.
“In the light of the persistent poor access by farmers to the various funds for agricultural development, 60 per cent of the agriculture investment in budget as well as in any intervention facility created by the federal and state Government should be earmarked for the farmers,’’ Ukaoha said.
He called for increase in budgetary allocation to agriculture in line with the Maputo/Malabo commitments.
Ukaoha said that policy space should be created for the farmers and the establishment of Small Scale Agric Development Agency to undertake national survey of small scale agriculture and capacity assessment of small scale framers.
He called for the revitalisation of the Agric Extension Service to reduce the wide extension farmer ratio and facilitate access to extension agents’ contact by farmers.
Ukaoha said that the recent successes achieved in the Growth Enhancement Scheme should be improved upon to make sure that more farmers were registered and inputs made available to farmers.
He called on government to ensure reduction on the importation of foreign foods and creation and functionality of One-Stop Input Centres.
“The trend of continuously importing agricultural produce that farmers in the country have the capacity to produce is killing the domestic agricultural industry.
“We demand that all importation of basic cereals, foods and crude palm oil that can be produced in the country must stop while all waivers and concessions on such commodities must be totally eliminated.
“Government should provide and make functional the one-stop agro input centres across the rural communities and local governments to solve the problems of the agricultural mechanisation and supply of inputs,’’ Ukaoha said.
He said it had been observed that farmers had been using traditional systems and methods because of limited access to information, technology and knowledge on improved practices and markets.
Ukaoha said the country could not move forward or generate employment if agriculture issues were not addressed and called on government to address the issue of youth migrating because of the lack of employment.
Mr Kanayo Kanayo, a Nollywood Actor, called on Nigerian youths to change their negative perception about agriculture and farmers.
Kanayo said that the youth perceived farmers as uneducated, dirty, unskilled, physical labourers with extremely low economic return.
“I must tell you today that modern agriculture is more than tilling the soil and rearing animals, the sector now offers career opportunities in research, environment, financial management, engineering and other technical areas for the youth to explore,’’ he said.
Kanayo advocated the provision of water for irrigation infrastructure in strategic places to assist farmers cultivate more than once in a year.
He called for value to be added to raw materials in order to attract better prices for farm products for the benefit of farmers. He called on youths to go into farming no matter how small. The association went to Utako and Wuse markets to educate traders on the importance of farming to the economy.
Mr Ibrahim Tanimu, Deputy Director Planning, Policy and Programme, represented Mr Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, at the event.