A group of farmers under the aegis of Federation of Ethics and Values Cooperative Multipurpose Union, South West Zone, has accused the Federal Government of neglecting in its agricultural policy.
Chairman of the group, Mr. Adesina Onikekun, said the group has since 2012 been seeking for funding assistance from the Central Bank of Nigeria-the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (CBN-NIRSAL) instrument that is targeted at de-risking lending to the agricultural sector, without success.
He claimed that other zones in the country, including North, South East and South South, except South West, have benefited from the goal of CBN-NIRSAL mechanism, which is to trigger an agricultural industrialisation process through increased production and processing of the greater part of what is produced to boost economic earnings across the value chain.
Onikekun, who disclosed this during a zonal executive meeting of the group held at Mayflower Hotel, Olorunshogo, Mushin, Lagos, explained that the, “Federation of Ethics and Values Cooperative Multipurpose Union South West Zone is a group of entrepreneurs, especially farmers. The interest of the group is to liaise with government to access the funds made available by the Federal Government for the promotion of agriculture in the South West. We are over 7,000 members who have been pursuing this fund and hoping to access it,” he added.
“We were motivated to go into agriculture as a result of government’s pronouncements on the depletion of the country’s forex and the need to halt high import bill on imported food.
“We are spending a large chunk of our forex in importing agricultural produce into Nigeria when we have vast expanse of land with large population that could go into farming. Why do we have to be importing food, when we can grow food and feed ourselves? So, that is the more reason we want to encourage our people to go into farming so that as a cluster, we can access the fund being made available for farming by the government so as to feed the nation,” he added.
He described the recent forex ban on food import by the Buhari-led administration as a welcome development, adding that government should extend it to all agricultural produce imported into the country, including rice and poultry products.
He further said, “we should encourage our people to go into producing these items. It is something we can do because we have the land. It is just to make the fund available and create the conducive environment for people to go into this line of business for the betterment of the country.”