By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA-FARMERS under the auspices of Association of Small-Scale Agro Producers in Nigeria, ASSAPIN, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, and other stakeholders have demanded for passage of fertilizer control, seed council and warehouse receipt system bills by the 8th National Assembly ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The demand was made by farmers at a programme organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG, with theme: Regional Sensitisation for Smallholder Farmers in North-Central in collaboration with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, AGRA and supported by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers drawn from Niger, Nasarawa and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, the National Programme Coordinator, ASSAPIN, Yarima Charles, expressed dismay over delay in passing the bills by NASS, and also emphasized the impact the bills would make in promoting agribusiness and food security.
Charles called on NASS to speed up passage of the bills into law before inauguration of the 9th Assembly in June 2019 because farmers are frustrated.
He said: “Specifically, you cannot do farming activities in Nigeria first without having access to improved seeds and without fertilizers. These two things are critical even though land is also one of the critical aspects of it.
“By the time you have improved seeds and access to fertilizer so that you would be able to engage in appropriate farming techniques and you embark on effective farm management it would increase yield to farmers per hectare, and when the yield increases, the farmers will have surplus in productivity and sell, also to take care of other issues concerning them and their families.
“When these three bills are passed into law, it has multi-sectoral impact, it would lead to improved quality of manpower in the agricultural sector, because it would lead to production of farm equipment, increased revenue generation instead of depending on borrowing and importation of these commodities that are not good for consumption.
“Part of what we are doing today is to equip the farmers with vital information to speak on the issues of the Fertiliser Control Bill, Seed Bill and many other bills so that after we have elected them into power and after May 2019, we will follow it up again to see what they can do to ensure that these bills are passed into law.”
Also speaking, the Programme Facilitator, NESG, Dr Oluwakayode Oyeleye, charged farmers not to be cajoled by politicians to garner their votes, rather, they should speak with one voice on demanding for the bills at NASS to be passed into law.
“Most politicians have the habit of using small things to sway the electorate especially farmers, but at this point in time, we want the farmers to ask legislators seeking another term or those intending to go there for the first time, if they will support those things that are critical to their livelihood and Nigeria at large. I want the farmers to do issue-based voting, ask if they are supporting the bills, if they don’t, then they can’t have the farmers’ votes.
“A lot will be achieved if the bill is passed. So we are calling for the speedy passage of the bills.
“The agricultural value chains have not been properly fixed in Nigeria, there have been a lot of gaps and we want to know if this kind of sensitisation can help close these gaps”, Oyeleye said.
The Project Manager, Agribusiness Legislature Reforms Project, NESG, Dolapo Enejor, disclosed that, “Some of the bills have seen about four different assemblies and still not passed, like the Fertiliser Quality Control Bill that has been on for 16 years and still has not been passed into law. So why we are advocating and sensitizing the farmers is for them to lend their voice to the passage of these bills.”