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Stakeholders want an agric expert as minister

Stakeholders in the agricultural sector want the appointment of the minister to be based on expertise rather than sentiments and political consideration.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday, the stakeholders observed that in spite of the country’s rich endowment in agricultural resources, it was still under developed.

They also noted that a lot food resources were being wasted through post harvest losses even as a significant percentage of the population experienced hunger.

They blamed the situation on the appointment of ministers, who lacked the expertise, describing it as “putting a round peg in a square hole”.

Ms Lasely Agams, the Country Director, Oxfam International, an NGO, said that “for food security to be achieved, Nigeria needs to have a minister who is knowledgeable about agricultural issues.’’

Such a minister should also be able to influence the Federal Executive Council decisions in favour of the sector as well as ensure the allocation of adequate resources to the sector, she said.

“For instance, in 2009 the allocation to the agriculture sector was 12 per cent of the budget. In 2010, we have 3.7 per cent allocation.

“Not only is that very low, but also you still want to ask specific questions; the 12 per cent allocated last year how was it spent in terms of quality and quantity and where was it spent?

“Because it could also be one of the reasons why they cut it, because if I was the President and I give you 12 per cent of my budget for agriculture and at the end of the year I don’t see any result, I will just cut it to four per cent,’’ she added.

Agams stressed that agriculture remained an integral sector of the nation’s economy because most Nigerians relied on it for their survival.

She said that adequate investment in the sector with knowledgeable leader was the only way to overcome poverty.

The country director advised the government to reconsider the agricultural policy and be specific with its areas of focus.

“Nigerian’s Vision 20:2020 and food security programme aimed at making Nigeria one of the 20 biggest economies in the world cannot be attained without a comprehensive agricultural policy.


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