…As farmers list hurdles to access banks’ loans
…Warns FG on impending famine
..Say political farmers enjoying govt. patronage
By Chris Ochayi, ABUJA
A university don, Professor Moses Ogbaji of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State has lamented that the lack of political will on part of the Federal Government would hinder the attainment of sustainable food security and sufficiency in the country.
Prof. Ogbaji spoke at the official national flag of farm mechanisation in Nigeria by All Farmers Progressives Association, AFPA, held at Nigerian Army Farm Ranches in Abuja.
in his paper titled, ‘The importance of farm mechanisation in combating food security in Nigeria, Prof, Ogbaji noted that achieving food security in Nigeria required political commitment and action.
According to him, ”Any attempt to increase agricultural production and have food security without considering a proper farm mechanisation strategy would never have a positive outcome.
”A sustainable agricultural mechanisation strategy is a planning strategy that contributes to the goal of sustainable agricultural and at the same time accepts food self-sufficiency and generates economic and inclusive growth as well as social benefits.
”Food security is about everybody having food of right quality and quantity at all times. Food insecurity which could result from agricultural resources degradation, non-adoption of technologies, and lack of access to productive sources should be one of the greatest concern of the government.
”Because if a nation must survive, food security of the people must be guaranteed. Sustainable food security and sufficiency cannot be attained by relying on rainfall agriculture.
”Government should provide at subsistence level pumping machines to farmers living near a source of water to enable them to carry out dry season farming.
”In my candid opinion, the accelerated development of farm mechanisation by government combined with increased livestock and vegetation farming by farmers are the most important antidotes and panacea to sustainable food security and income in Nigeria.
”The single most important requirements for achieving food security in Nigeria are political commitment and action. Political will is often expressed in speeches but often this political will is not converted into political actions.
”There is no scientific or economic excuse for hunger today. Hunger now persists, before the political system must seek out the cause and apply the machines.
”The economic future of Africa today depends on the future of agriculture (Obasanjo 1987). In Nigeria today agriculture is not witnessing the required growth. One major way to boost agricultural growth is farm mechanisation..”
In his remarks, the National President of All Farmers Progressives Association, AFPA, Chief Ogbo Joseph Douglas has called on the Federal Government to exempt farmers from the tedious request for collateral before they can access loans from banks for farming activities.
Chief Dauglas insisted the federal government must be ready to revolutionise the agricultural sector in order to achieve food security and sufficiency.
He lamented that asking for collateral which most farmers don’t have would expose the country to more challenge of food insecurity than what we are battling with today as a nation.
Chief Douglas, who tied the worsening security situation. In the county to hungry sadi, ”The cause of insecurity in the country today is hunger. We want to appeal to the Federal Government that the reason for all these banditries, kidnapping here and there causing insecurity is because there is no food.
Everybody is hungry, the moment these people are busy doing something, they have money in their pocket and able to feed well we will have a peaceful country because nobody will indulge in all these things.
The farmer, who said the association has over 10 million people in its fold vowed the efforts are ongoing to recruit 60 million more youths in order to provide food security for the country.
He said, ”But the challenge we are having is that we don’t have money. But by the special grace of God, we are believing that we will have money. We are going to organise ourselves to ensure we have money.
”As I am talking to you, we have over 10,000 tractors purchased by ourselves. But we also need help from the government and spirited individuals who will come to our aid because these ones are too small If we really want to mechanise Nigeria and bringing ourselves out of food insecurity.
Lamenting the burden inherent in procuring bank loans by farmers Chief Douglas disclosed that ”Over 200 of us have approached NIRSAL but up till today, not one person collected one naira. We applied to other areas as well they didn’t give the loan to anybody. And that is why we said we should come together to see what we can do for ourselves.
”We went to Philanthropists and individuals who come from international bodies and they are helping us by giving us tractors on a loan basis.
”We have approached Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, sometimes they asked us to bring collateral. The kind of collateral they asked for farmers cannot provide.
”We are begging the Federal Government to assist us. There is nothing they can do to achieve agricultural success except we mechanised the agricultural sector.
And we can achieve that with core farmers and not political farmers. ”Those who parade the corridor of power that they are farmers, 80 per cent of them are not farmers.”