The Nasarawa State House of Assembly Committee on Agriculture has cautioned the state Ministry of Agriculture against sharp practices in the sales and distribution of fertiliser to farmers.
This, the committee said, is to boost food production in the state and enhance transparency in the system for the benefit of farmers.
Dr Peter Akwe, the Chairman of the committee, gave the advice when managements of the state Ministry of Agriculture and Nasarawa Agricultural Development Programme (NADP) appeared before the committee on their 2022 budget performances.
He explained that the agricultural sector is very important and critical to the growth of the state, hence the need for more proactive steps by government to address emerging changes facing the sector.
“The state government have to declare a state of emergency in the agricultural sector, if really we want to get it right.
“As the importance of agriculture to human and societal development could not be overemphasised.
“Agriculture provides food, generate employment and revenue among other benefits.
“Hence the need for all hands to be on deck in order to address the challenges facing the sector in the state,” he said.
Akwe also called on the state government to employ more extension workers in order to boost food production in the state.
“It is really disturbing to hear that one extension worker is attached to 12,000 to 15,000 farmers in the state,” he added The chairman urged the ministry to ensure prudence in the distribution of fertiliser to farmers across the state in order to boost food production.
Akwe also called on the state government to declare a state of emergency in the agricultural sector in order to address the challenges facing the sector in the state.
He explained that if the state government declared state of emergency in the agricultural sector, it would not only boost food production but would also improve on the standard of living of the people of the state.
Earlier, Mr Nuhu Oshafu, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, appreciated the committee for supporting its activities to succeed’ He told the committee that the state has purchased and distributed 21 trucks of fertiliser worth about N238 million in the state.
Also appeared is Mr Emmanuel Allahnana, the Programme Manager, Nasarawa Agricultural Development Programme (NADP), who thanked the committee for the support the agency is enjoying from them and called for its sustenance.
He assured of their readiness to be up and doing in initiating different policies and programmes that would boost food production in the state.
Allahnana, however, appealed for the employment of more extension workers in order to address agricultural challenges and boost food production in the state.
Strengthening ADPs for sustainable food security in Nigeria Strengthening ADPs for sustainable food security in Nigeria By Oboh Linus, News Agency of Nigeria Globally, food security has become an issue that raises concern especially in recent times with its attendant consequences: hunger, malnutrition, poverty, inflation, among others.
Recently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that about 19.
4 million people will face food insecurity across Nigeria between June and August, 2022.
It is also estimated that food crisis in Nigeria will affect 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The report also notes that about 14.
4 million people, including 385, 000 IDPs in 21 states and the FCT are already hit by food crisis as at May, 2022.
Analysts attribute the current food crises in Nigeria to the neglect of small scale farming and over emphasis of cash crops production and the oil sector.
Indeed, the Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs) were established in 1972 across the federation in order to bring about agricultural programmes and policies closer to small scale farmers in the rural areas.
It is on record that the success of the pilot scheme of the programme in few states led to its adoption and expansion nationwide by 1984.
The ADPs undertake all possible measures including partner relevant organisations to ensure timely and adequate supply of quality inputs and services, such as fertilisers, seeds, pesticides, agricultural implements to rural farmers.
Stakeholders advocate improved funding of the ADPs in order to boost food production and escape from the current food crisis.
They opined that the viability of ADPs depend largely on the strength of extension delivery system and stressed the need for government at all levels to recruit more extension agents to sustain education of small scale farmers on how to use the farm inputs made available to them.
“They need to be properly informed of the introduction of new improved crops and seedlings, different kinds of fertilisers and their uses as well as timeliness of use, the storage systems under which different post- harvest farm produce can survive over a relatively long period of time,” they opined.
Mr Emmanuel Alanana, Chairman, Programme Managers Forum of Nigeria, says the role of ADPs in Nigeria is largely about extension delivery system, which targets small scale farmers to ensure food sustainability and security.
Alanana asserted that small scale farmers who constituted larger population of farmers in Nigeria are the ones feeding the country.
Alanana who is also the Programme Manager of Nasarawa State Agriculture Development Programme said that ADPs have been facing many challenges.
He listed them as: Poor funding, inadequate staff, lack of operational vehicles to ease movement of extension agents, shortage of extension agents across the states.
“On an ideal situation, one extension agent is supposed to work with 800 farmers or at most 1000 farmers, but today as I speak to you now, the gap is so wide that one extension agent is working with about 15,000 to 20,000 farmers, so efficiency is not there.
“Other challenges are lack of funding and mobility; in those days as long as you are an extension agent, you are entitled to mobility.
“But today we are finding it difficult because all these things are lacking.
“For Nigeria to overcome the current food challenges, both federal and states governments have to move quickly and give more attention to agriculture, particularly funding ADPs,” he said.
He called on the Federal Government to collaborate with state governments to formulate policies to reinvigorate the ADPs and also regularly make inputs available to them.
“I’m calling on the federal and the state governments to fund ADPs, employ extension workers and provide mobility for them to ease their movement,” he appealed.
Mrs Grace Ede, Nasarawa State ADP Director of Extension, stressed that extension delivery system is the core mandate of ADPs. According to her, ADPs cannot exist without extension workers to carry out extension delivery function.
Ede said that the Nasarawa State ADP recently partnered United Nations Development Programme, with the assistant of Nasarawa State Government to distribute farm inputs to 400 farmers who were affected by farmers and herders crises in the state.
” Extension delivery system in Nasarawa State has been facing a lot of challenges, ranging from inadequate staff to mobility, we are supposed to have at least 200 extension agents, but I as speak to you now, we have just about 60 or thereabouts extension workers, this is inadequate to function optimally.’’ Ede recalled that ADP’s last recruitment in the state was during the administration of former Gov. Aliyu Akwe-Doma, between 2007 and 2011 where 150 workers were recruited.
He noted that since then, there was no employment again till date.
Ede, while commending Gov. Abdullahi Sule for various support extended to ADP, appealed to the state government to employ more workers for ADP.
He said that employment of more workers will enable ADP to discharge its core mandate of extension delivery system effectively.
Mr Nuhu Oshafu, Nasarawa State Commissioner for Agriculture and Water Resources, says the state is leaving no stone unturned to ensure food security.
He said that the state government recently distributed farm implements and inputs at subsidised rate to farmers for both dry and wet seasons farming.
The agriculture commissioner said plans are under way to solve the manpower needs of the ADP to enable it live up to its mandate.
Oshafu said that the government has always provided enabling environment that afforded the ministry the opportunity to interface with donors agencies, as well as pay counterpart funds that paved way to assist farmers buy farm inputs.
“In January, the state secured 10 trucks load of fertilisers and other farm inputs for dry season farming.
“ They were distributed to farmers at subsidised rate; similarly government secured 34 and half trucks load of fertilisers in April for wet season farming, which were distributed to farmers in the state,” he said.
The commissioner also said that the state government had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) to provide N12 billion loan to civil servants to enable them venture into farming to boost food production.
Oshafu reiterated that the state government was committed to making the agriculture sector backbone of the state economy.
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