774 LG agric departments back border closure

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…seeks 10% budget for agric sector

…advocate release of Anchor Borrowers loan through LG Agric Departments

By Seun Ibiyemi

The National Council of Local Government Department of Agriculture has backed the federal government decision to close the nation’s border till January 2020.

They demand of the federal government to increase agric sector budget by 10 per cent and also advocating for release of Anchor Borrowers scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (AP) loan through LG Agric Departments.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees, Baffa Kiru in a signed communiqué at the end of the 10th national council meeting in Abuja last week with theme “Enhancing Local Agriculture to achieve Sustainable Development Goals” called on government to help in strengthening agriculture administration at the local level by establishing Agricultural Services Department in the Ministry of Local Government Affair or Local Government Service Commission in all states of the federation.

In his communiqué at the event that witnessed participants from the 774 Local Governnent Areas in Nigeria, members applauded the decision of the present administration to close the Nigerian borders as this is showing positive results to farmers due to increase in production and sales of agricultural commodities hitherto suppressed by smuggling for example rice, chicken products among others

According to the communiqué signed by the chairman, “There is a need to synergize and enhance the agricultural programmes implementation between the Federal, States and Local Governments and all other relevant agencies for better outcomes, Local Government being the final destination of all government programmes

“The council appealed to government to consider the payment of hazardous allowance to Agricultural professionals in government institutions who are exposed to various hazards in the discharge of their duties.”

He reiterated importance of MAPUTO Declaration on agriculture for a budgetary provision of 10per cent to agriculture at all levels of government.

Expressing that, “The Council noted the continued nonrecognition of agriculture as a profession and call on the National Assembly as a matter of urgency to pass the pending bill for the professionalization of Agriculture in Nigeria

“The Council noted the good efforts of government in promoting the implementation of SDGs to address the problems of hunger, poverty, environmental degradation, inequality, climate and prosperity especially at the local level and also call for a sincere collaboration between federal, states and local government in SDGs programmes.

“The council identified the challenges facing agriculture in Nigeria to include land tenure system which limited land holdings for farming to just 1.8 ha per family, distinct rainfall pattern, dwindling labour force and poor access of farmers to funds and therefore appeal to both federal, states and local governments to help in acquiring, clearing and sharing lands for farmers with the provision of small scale irrigation facilities to mitigate the effects of dry season on agriculture

“The Council observed the lack of efficient agricultural market and marketing systems as middlemen and other players in the industry get more profit than the local producers and leaving the farmers with debts to payback and therefore call on government to crest farmers markets where farmers can directly sell their produce to consumers

“Council also noted the perennial high post harvest losses experienced by local farmers due to their inability to properly store their farm produce after harvest and therefore call on government to set up cottage processing centres and storage facilities across Nigeria for value chain addition

“Council calls for a concerted efforts by government to regularly train farmers in low-cost agro-ecological farming methods, capacity building on local management skills and resources as this will enable farmers grow healthy and nutritious food as well combat hunger in their communities.

“Farmers should also be encouraged to practice organic production which enhances ecologically sound system of food production, improves resistance to pest and diseases and ultimately increases yield

“The government should strictly enforce the policy of using locally food commodity in the school feeding programme of the current administration to enhance income of farmers,reduce wastage and eliminate the activities of middlemen

“Government at all levels should improve on local infrastructure as this holds the key to any effort targeted at improving agricultural production and marketing. Such infrastructure intervention solicited for are rural feeder roads to ease movement of farm produce out of the farms, community storage facilities and processing centres

“Governments especially at the local level are advised to popularize the benefits of producing improved livestock breeds both for income and better nutrition.”

According to the communiqué, “the council enjoined government and farmers to promote climate-Smart Agriculture and other sustainable production practices such as  tillage, adoption of nitrgen efficient crop varieties, adoption of draught and heat tolerant crop variety cultivation, improved feed management, livestock manure management, drip irrigation and integrated farming breeding for productivity, improving fertility through better nutrition, better care of animals, better timing of reproduction through Artificial Insemination, better care to avoid calving or lambing issues, mastitis or injuries

“Council agreed that the registration and control of agricultural related cooperative societies should be left in the hands of local government department of Agriculture.”

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