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Stop Nigeria from bleeding through agriculture, says Ibezim



Stop Nigeria from bleeding through agriculture, says Ibezim


Senator Frank Ibezim of Imo North and member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture has noted that the Senate has taken  more interest towards reviving the agricultural sector, hoping that it would generate enough food for the citizens and stop the country from further bleeding due to food importation.

Speaking during the recently held Agricultural Entrepreneurship on Rice Farming and Cassava Processing for women and youths in Imo North Senatorial District organised by the National Cereal Institute in conjunction with Sen. Frank Chukwuma Ibezim at the SFI Academy.

The lawmaker, reasoned that it had become necessary to eagerly revisit farmsteads situated across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

 He adduced some reasons expectations are yet to translate to reality, “the land is green, the manpower is available and markets exist beyond our shores to transform rows of corn or millet into an even healthier Gross Domestic Product profile.”

Ibezim identified security, standards and private initiative, as some of those reasons.

On security, Ibezim observed: “Vast areas of farmlands have been abandoned in several parts of our country due to not only disturbing farmer-herder conflicts but also the alarming incursion of insurgents into the domains of our local folk.

“These insurgents now control some marketplaces and determine when farmers may trade. The Ninth Senate of the Federal Republic recognises that this state of affairs is unsustainable. In my role as a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, I have pushed for deeper engagement with the Executive in order to rapidly regain the trust of the Nigerian farmer for whom the situation spells disaster. This collaborative effort ultimately involves the military and security services.”

However, he lauded  the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for declaring the bandits as terrorists and for continuing to emphasise food security, even in his most recent television engagements with the media.

“We have initiated round-the-clock measures in unison with the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, as well as with local and international non-governmental organisations to monitor the effect of this attrition on the agricultural sector and on our citizens,” he added.

“I believe that the factors which have been responsible for this situation were engendered from decades of subterranean activities, which have now come into the open and which will require a patient, methodical approach to treat in the long term.”

Stop Nigeria from bleeding through agriculture, says Ibezim

Speaking on standards, Ibezim recalled how the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Mrs Mojisola Adeyeye, recently described the situation where more than 76% of Nigeria’s exported agricultural output is rejected for not conforming to international standards.

He noted that the development required the country to take more self-critical assessments of its capability.

According to him, the key thing to note here is that these standards include product quality, packaging and branding as well as value chain support.

In meeting this challenge, the lawmaker disclosed that the Senate has passed the National Agricultural Development Fund to provide sustainable funding as well as support in the areas of food production, food security, economic diversification, job creation and international competitiveness.

This recently promulgated piece of legislation will steer the Federal Republic of Nigeria towards relevant development partners who will offer sorely needed support in this vital area.”

Ibezim, who also identified private initiative as one of the approaches to revamp the sector, stated that experience had shown that business is best left in the hands of business people to run.

“Our decades-long stint with government-run business entities has shown us that business is best left for business people in the private sector. This enduring lesson is another reason why there is a concerted effort between this government and the Senate to create the environment that enables private sector actors to take initiative to grow the market.

“In the space since 2015 a burgeoning number of agritech startups have mushroomed into a hotbed of potential influential drivers of the local economy. Several have sought and received international investment and a sample of those are as follows.  Releaf has secured $ 4.2 million to build its food processing technology and shore up the logistics framework for farmers. FarmCrowdy has raised more than $ 2 million since 2017 to bring farmers closer to broader, more lucrative markets. Vendease, another Nigerian startup has raised $ 3.2 million to help build a food supply chain that targets restaurants.

“This is only a glimpse of the action occurring in the agricultural sector and the outcomes could be enormous. This is why I am optimistic. I know without a shadow of a doubt that we can somehow turn the tide. The challenges are there, no doubt, but the possibilities are endless.

“As we in the Senate work conscientiously towards developing the platforms, it is gratifying to observe the young and not-so-young take advantage of the situation to make Nigeria a nation that can feed itself and others,” the lawmaker submitted.

Agricultural implements, such as fertilizer, cassava, rice and millet were freely distributed to the throng of farmers, who participated in the programme.

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