Farmers under the auspices of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) say they are uncomfortable with the plan by the federal government to spend N13.9 billion on pest control in the country.
The government had on June 12 approved a N13.9 billion intervention fund for pest control in Nigeria.
Announcing the development in a statement, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture said the fund was introduced to ensure agricultural activities are not interrupted during the 2020 farming season.
It is also aimed at controlling transboundary pests and minimising the impact of COVID-19 and guaranteeing both nutritional and national food security.
Providing additional information on it in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, the director, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services in the ministry, Alabi Olaniran, said the Pest Control Fund was approved not only to address pest control but for two other critical areas.
Mr Olaniran said the fund was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on March 11 to address the control of migratory pests, control of animal and zoonotic or trans-boundary animal diseases and upgrade of abattoirs.
Mr Olaniran explained that of the N13.9 billion announced by the minister, N2.8billion is for migratory pest control, N9.6 billion for control of animal and zoonotic diseases, and N1.4billion for rehabilitation and upgrade of abattoirs.
He explained that the N2.8billion for control of migratory pests would be disbursed to 12 front line states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe, Taraba, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi and Zamfara.
The President of AFAN, Kabir Ibrahim, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, said farmers received the news of the approval of the fund with shock.
Mr Ibrahim said the information has exposed farmers to risk especially in the peak of insecurity in Nigeria.
“For the farmers who are not sure of even being able to produce anything to wake up to the realisation that the government was planning to spend this kind of money on a perceived problem even before it rears its head is nebulous,” he said
“The question we are asking is how the government came to the decision to expend this colossal sum to protect farm produce whose quantum is indeterminate because its cultivation has not even commenced and there is no veritable data to rely on in forecasting what it will actually amount to.
“At the end of the hearing, the government should be advised to reappraise the performance of the drivers of agriculture in Nigeria,” he said.
Mr Ibrahim said although AFAN welcomes the concern of President Muhammadu Buhari for the promotion of agriculture for food security and national development, “it will be unpatriotic to keep quiet in the face of this obtuse and reductive appraisal of an integral component of the national food system.”
The association called on the government to set up a directorate to coordinate activities for the pursuit of food security in Nigeria.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Theodore Ogaziechi, refused to speak on the concerns raised by AFAN.
“I have no business with AFAN, I am a civil servant and not a politician,” he said.