•Urges politicians to mainstream, promote agriculture
Senator Iroegbu and Godsgift Onyedinefu
Ahead of the 2019 General elections in Nigeria, the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) has urged relevant stakeholders in the socio-economic and political sphere of the country to mainstream agricultural sector as a means of addressing the emerging security challenges and agitations for sustainable development.
This was contained in a report made available on Wednesday by the Programme Manager, Conflict Prevention/Early Warning, WANEP, Ms. Osariemen Amas-Edobor, as the outcome of the sensitisation workshop on Farmers Manifesto conducted between 29-31, January 2019, in Bauchi State with the support of OXFAM.
A total of 312 participants: 117 female and 173 male (including 17 Political Party Aspirants) were represented at both the sensitization workshop on the Farmers Manifesto to Small Scale Farmers (SSFs) and Engagement with Political Parties in Bauchi State.
Edobor noted that it has been recognized that enhanced agricultural performance in the country is key to growth and poverty reduction through its direct impact on increasing job opportunities, especially for women and youth; food security and improved nutrition.
According to her, SSFs in Nigeria make up the greater number of the country’s workforce population and produce over 80 percent of the food consumed in the country.
She stated: “The Nigerian agricultural sector is second largest contributor (about 24%) to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Nonetheless, these farmers appear to be the poorest constituency in Nigeria. As shown by statistics, smallholder farmers constitute over 75% of the electorates, thus making the constituency the largest voting population in Nigeria, so therefore it becomes imperative for the specific needs of smallholder farmers to be of priority to Policy makers.
“It is in recognition of the challenges faced by SSFs in Nigeria that Small Holder Farmers Groups (SHFGs) now rises to organize and link up with relevant national platforms with a view to enhancing their voice and increasing their capacity to influence policies in and out of the agricultural sector resulting to the development of a MANIFESTO.”
Edobor explained that Farmers’ MANIFESTO is a documentation of the specific needs of Nigerian farmers as a basis for a bargain between farmers and political office seekers, prior and after elections.
In view of this, she said, WANEP-Nigeria with support from OXFAM conducted several activities in Bauchi State including; Advocacy/Courtesy visits to Traditional Rulers, Federal/State Ministry of Agriculture and the Private Sector; Sensitization workshop with SSF and Political Party aspirants in the State.
With the aim to finding lasting solution to the challenges affecting the smooth operation of the local farmers, she said the Non-Governmental Organisation has expressed its readiness to boost production capacity of Small Scale Farmers in Bauchi State for food security in the country.
The early warning expert stressed the need for Government at all levels and other stakeholders to provide local farmers with credit loan, fertilizer and improvement of agricultural extension services.
She revealed that statistics have showed that over seventy five percent of food consumed by the people were produced by the local farmers hence the need to help them operate effectively and boost production.
To this end, she assured that WANEP will collaborate with relevant stakeholders for improvement of budget allocated to agricultural sector.
Also speaking, the Programme Manager, Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme, Dr. Iliyasu Aliyu Gital, reassured that the state government will not relent in supporting local farmers to enhance their farming activities.
Gital commended the organizers of this program which came at appropriate time for taking pain to organize this important accession aimed at uplifting the small scale farmers not only in Bauchi but in the country at large.
He also called on participants to feel free and open up their problems so that it will give the organizers the opportunity to confront the policy makers with the said problems with a view to assisting the small farmers who produced most of the food we eat in Nigeria.
At the end of the sensitisation workshop, the stakeholders made key recommendations including: Steady increase in budgetary allocation to agriculture in Bauchi State (2014 was 4.29%; 2017 was 7.1% and 2019 is 8.4%); sustained registration of farmers under the national farmer scheme (800,000 farmers; development of Fishery Laws to enhance production in Bauchi State; and Insurance Policy for SSF: Insurance for SSF is relevant to help reduce farmers’ risk in terms of climate conditions and its effect on food production/harvest.
They also advised that the distribution of fertilizer should be via Ministry of Agriculture; transparency in the distribution of fertilizers is crucial for improved agricultural productivity; there should 80 percent increase in fertilizer distribution to SSF in Bauchi State; and women in Agriculture- Intensive capacity building for women to engage effectively in Agriculture Community Value Chain e.g. Tomatoes.
The stakeholders further urged the Bauchi State Government should invest in feeder roads to reduce agriculture wastes and early distribution of fertilizer; Continuation of subsidy scheme for tractor acquisition by the State Government is imperative, and this scheme should be more targeted at SSF; Linkages between SSF and extension workers should be strengthened for effective farm management; and that 60 percent of agriculture-focused investment should be dedicated to smallholders farmers.
Others are: WANEP should extend linkages with SSF at the grassroots level for impact; the State Government to control indiscriminate deforestation activities and also ban the exportation of charcoal, which is a major form of environmental degradation in the State.
“Women should be more involved in policy development for SSF, budgeting and budget tracking to ensure proper allocation of resources; the State government should incorporate policies that encourage training on environmental issues by extension workers with a view to reduce health hazards SSF suffers due to usage of non-environmental friendly farm chemicals; and Capacity building training on agricultural hazards capable of affecting productivity.
“The Governorship candidate of the NNPP (New Nigeria Peoples’ Party), Ahmad Adamu indicated that one of the Party’s focus is on ‘improving Small Scale Farming’ in the State through the provision of improved technology, quality fertilizer and seedlings, etc.”.
Some of the key outcomes of include the 16 Political Party Aspirants (Governorship, House of Assembly and Representatives) across five political parties in the State that signed the Farmers Manifesto. This commitment further stimulates positive engagement around food security and capacity development for small-scale farmers (SSF) in the State.
There was also improved awareness of SSF, MDA’s, CSOs, Traditional Rulers and the private sector on the relevance of the Farmers Manifesto constituting a linkage between the Farmers and Policy Makers in the State; while the Ciroma of Bauchi, Madaki Agro Services Ltd, Ministry of Agriculture and the Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme (BSADP) affirmed their support to partner with WANEP in subsequent agricultural interventions in the State to boost Agricultural yield targeted at SSF in the State.