Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government has said it will review the activities of the National Agricultural Research Council (NARC), in a bid to enhance food security. This is coming the government believes that the council has not lived up to its responsibilities.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, stated this recently, when the National Assembly Joint Committee on Agriculture visited the ministry for its constitutional oversight function in Abuja.
“We need to do something about NARC, which is not really meeting its objective and which, by certain government regulations, has become rather moribund. We will take the views of the legislators, and action has to be taken to bring it to order,” he said.
Ogbeh, who mooted the idea of limiting maize importation, argued that it is affecting homegrown maize production and also blaming neighbouring countries for instituting policies inimical to the country’s economy, which he said has led to job losses.
For his part, House of Representatives Chairman on Agriculture, Tahir Monguno, suggested that budgetary allocation for agriculture should be removed from the traditional budgetary provision, insisting that agriculture is time bound.
“There is a need for the legislature and executive to collaborate and make sure that budgetary allocation concerning agriculture be removed from the traditional budgetary provision in view of the fact that issues concerning agriculture are time bound and rains cannot wait.”
Monguno further proposed constitutional amendment of the Public Procurement Act to grant leeway to the Ministry of Agriculture not to comply with the provisions of the Act so that farmers can benefit from the services of government without bureaucratic delays.
“The government should amend the law of Public Procurement Act to allow the ministry in particular, not to comply with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act in order not to constitute a cog in the wheels of progress in delivering of services to farmers,” he remarked.