The Senate on Thursday faulted the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), insisting that the apex bank was not in the position to implement it.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Sen Abdullahi Adamu, argued that the Ministry of Agriculture has the primary mandate to implement all national agricultural policies of the country.
The chairman who spoke at the 2019 National Agricultural Show and World Food Day celebration in Karu, Nasarawa State, said the Ministry of Agriculture should be allowed to take over the ABP scheme for it to properly reach the intended beneficiaries.
According to him, part of the reason the scheme cannot be said to be completely successful is because it is not being operated by the appropriate government agency. He stressed the need to urgently revive the country’s agricultural research institutes, as they play vital role in applied research to enhance production.
He said effort to attain food security is a collective effort as ending food import is not a day’s job, adding that what government needed to do was to protect local farmers by banning importation of food items local farmers have comparative advantage in production.
He said: “It is a long journey full of twists and turns and even disappointments. But none of that should discourage us as a nation committed to this singular and laudable objective of feeding ourselves and our neighbours.
No matter how long a journey may be, it begins with the first step. I believe that with the above and other initiatives of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, we have taken the first step.”
The senator who stressed the need for the government to toe the lines of European countries that provide subsidies to insulate farmers against bankruptcy and loses, said the country must stand up to the huge challenges in agricultural development.
“It is high time we determined for ourselves what is best for our agricultural development. Agricultural subsidy is inevitable if we must sustain current initiative,” he added.
The Chairman, All farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Kabir Ibrahim while commending effort by the government to stem illegal importation of food as an incentive to local farmers to operate optimally, urged them to encourage farmers by increasing access to credit, food processing equipment and cold storage, see less transportation by air and road, improve exportation of agricultural produce.
However, the Country Representative, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Suffyan Koroma, stressed the need for governments to adopt policies, food standards and regulations that would prioritise the availability and affordability of safe foods.
He also said private sector can positively influence the food environment by adapting its products to modern nutritional recommendations. He said: “Farmers need better incentives to increase and diversify the production of high quality food.”