PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari recently reaffirmed to the nation that developing the agriculture sector and ensuring food security in the country remained the topmost in the agenda of his administration during his speech at the 8th Bola Tinubu Colloquium in Abuja with the theme : ‘Agriculture: Action, work, revolution’.
Buhari who disclosed that the Federal Government’s efforts at diversifying the nation’s economy would begin in the agricultural sector, stated that the development of the sector will help check insecurity, create more jobs, address the country’s balance of payment as well as stimulate and sustain national economic recovery.
The President reaffirmed that diversifying the economy can no longer be a slogan, it has become a necessity, adding that economic growth cannot just be for the lucky few at the top; it has to be broad-based for every Nigerian citizen and a good place to start is the agricultural sector. He said “We face urgent challenges – tackling insecurity, creating jobs, addressing the country’s balance of payments and stimulating and sustaining national economic recovery. But even as we deal with these issues, I know it is also important and indeed critical to focus on some current challenges that confront millions of our men, women, and children around the country, the injustice of hunger and the need for long term food security”.
Buhari noted that the government can unleash the change that makes agriculture work for our people and our nation and will trigger the kind of economic growth that will lift millions out of poverty. He added that this is the renewed commitment that the government is making and he pledged that the government commitment to agriculture will remain a priority.’
Commending the organisers of the Colloquium for the choice of the theme, the President stated that Federal Government will organise an efficient market infrastructure that will make agriculture viable for investors, adding that the environment will be created to ensure stability and predictability for the private sector.
Buhari who noted that the government intend to also ensure that the market is fair and worthy of transforming small holder farmers from beggars to businessmen assured that his administration would speed up actions aimed at improving food production techniques as technology would play a huge role in the production of better seeds, ensuring better harvest, ensuring reliable weather forecast and predictable market prices.
The President also reassured the Nation that his government will continue to focus efforts towards improving nutrition for children. He stressed that his administration would take more pragmatic steps in the next few months to improve the nation’s economy and uplift the quality of life of the people, adding that his administration’s desire was to invest heavily in human capital development as a way of reducing high level poverty in the country.
The President who was also the Chairman of the occasion reiterated that in the coming months, Nigerians will see much more actions. Government will continue to invest substantially in human capital development and this is just the beginning, as his administration would welcome more companies ready to invest in the country.
Eulogizing Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Buhari said that he possesses some unique qualities that have contributed immensely to the growth of Nigeria, adding that there are very few patriots alive or departed today that can match the commitment, zealous, creativity that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has over the few decades demonstrated in organizing Nigeria’s public life for good. “As he adds another year today, my best wishes and prayer go out to a man, who deserves a lot of commendations,” Buhari said.
Gov. Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi, in his remarks at the event, spoke on Rice and Wheat production in Nigeria, and advocated for the provision of agricultural funds for farmers across the 33 rice producing states to boost food security in the country.
ALSO SEE: Food Safety: Politicking policies
In the same vien, as the president has promised a “predictable market prices and organise an efficient market infrastructure that will make agriculture viable for investors, a Consultant on Agriculture, Mr Akinleye Oluyemi urged the Federal Government to set up a marketing board to assist farmers with post-harvest yields and sales.
Oluyemi said that the introduction of marketing board would prevent post-harvest losses, adding that the establishment of the board would also encourage farmers to produce more and create avenue for assured exchange of harvest.
The Consultant who said that the board would also act as a regulatory body for produce pricing as well as encourage the farmers to continue production at optimum levels, affirmed that the Government must look into creating a marketing board to checkmate prices and ensure there are no post-harvest losses. He added that Government must be able to regulate, so that farmers will not be discouraged with post- harvest pricing.
Oluyemi noted that in the past, people plant their seeds but at the end of the day they have some issues with customers over price, stressing that some who even took loans to execute their project but unable to pay back due to post- harvest losses, and as we know the banks will not listen to excuses..
Oluyemi, who is the Feed Business Development Manager of Grand Cereals Ltd., reiterated that the proposed board would also mop up excess post-harvest production to avoid losses, noting that the marketing board will mop up the excess supply and the farmers will go back to produce, irrespective of the immediate sales of their produce.
The Consultant explained that if the government creates marketing board, a poultry farmer that produces 100 crates of egg per day can earn money directly from the board and the produce can move quickly. He added that it would also improve employment in the sector because the more the farmer sells, the more the farmer would want to increase.
Oluyemi also stressed the need for government to provide the right avenues for agriculture to thrive in the country, adding that if the enabling environment is provided, it would encourage youths and farmers to improve their production capacity.