Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin-Kebbi
The Federal Government and the Senate have expressed fears over high interests charged by banks on loans given to farmers as well as lack of agriculture stakeholders to mount pressure of Nigeria’s political class especially lawmakers on food policies for the country.
The two governments believed that this failure could affect about 3.7 million citizens to suffer food insecurity across in the country.
Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Innocent Ogbeh, who lamented the high interest charges by various banks on loans to farmers said if the rate was not reviewed immediately, it would worsen food production in the country.
Chief OgbeH stated this during the second conference of the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Policy Project organised by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
The Minister noted that many banks were still charging between 25 per cent and 9 per cent on loans saying that “That is the main reason many farmers failed to repay their loans because they are still using desolate tools, hoes and cutlasses which could not give mass production.”
He charged all stakeholders to address the issue as well as take to farm mechanisation process as precautionary motive to protect Nigeria’s population from starvation.
In his remarks, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sen. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said that without continuous pressure on lawmakers who have influence on budget implementation, food security in Nigeria would be in mirage.
Abdullahi noted that apart from food insecurity, malnutrition have posed a lot of challenges for Nigerians, maintaining that despite creation of the National Food Security Council by President Muhammadu Buhari to address the situation, lack of proper law to back up the drive has crippled the Council.
His words, “In Nigeria, about 3.7 million people across 16 states, are food insecure. Several factors drive Nigeria’s challenging food and nutrition outlook notably civil conflicts, large-scale displacement, rising food prices, climate change, natural resource degradation, poverty and population growth.
“Indeed, the present administration is doing much to address the issue of food and nutrition security which our dear President Muhammadu Buhari stated emphatically that ‘Nigeria’s journey towards self- sufficient and food security is non-negotiable.
“While the core policy intention and narrative are very clear and unambiguous, I want to draw our attention that sustainable success requires that we pay attention to home grown productivity increases among our farmers and other value chain actors”.
In his remarks, Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture, Barr. Attairu Maccido, who expressed concern over the lack of preservation of perishable goods in the state, noted that farmers annually lost large portions of tomatoes, onions and peppers during raining seasons.
He added that the Kebbi State Government had spent about N25 million to procure fingerlings fish to protect extinction of special species in major rivers in the state.