Okwe Obi, Abuja
Almost four years when the Federal Government promised to plant over 20 million bananas expected to last 12 months, the project has remain a pipe dream.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who had disclosed this to newsmen, said the project would take place in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in a bid to reduce banana importation.
“We are looking at planting 20 million bananas in the next 12 months,” he said.
Ogbeh, who have had running battles with permanent secretaries who allegedly failed to dance to his tune, pledged to supply tractors and other machinery to aid farmers.
He, also, assured Nigerians and investors that the country would embark on the launching cocoa in Ondo and Cross River States, but nothing is being done about it.
“The launching of cocoa will still take place in both Ondo and Cross River States respectively. We have new variety of cocoa which yielded in two and a half years, thanks to researchers in this country.
“The bags production has already started by the private sector in Kaduna State and more people are bringing machines from India and Bangladesh. We have to grow the kernel, not the intoxicating herm, to use in making jute bags,” he concluded.
More so, the Benue State-born politicians had promised to create Agricultural Mechanisation Services (AIMS), which would detect fake seeds.
“We are going to create a programme called Agricultural Inputs and Mechanisation Services (AIMS) we will name distributors in the local government areas.
“The good seed companies we know will use those distributors to sell those seeds to farmers depending on the crops they are growing, if it is rice, maize, sorghum or millet including soya beans or beans.
“If the seeds fail on the farm the farmer will come back to the distributor and also complain to us then the Ministry will take the distributor up on the matter. By that way we will know who is what and who is doing what. The farmer does not lose money.
“The distributors will be trained, they will have the phone numbers of those producing the seeds, addresses, and we too will know who they are and what they are distributing and where so that and there will be no question of buying stuff and running away,” he said.
However, he blamed the low pace of work on the delay passage of previous budgets
“One of the major obstacles to some of these programmes is the budget circle. You may not believe it, but we are just about implementing the 2018 budget.
“The agric budget is not the fattest budget in our economy; we manage what we have,” he added.