Instead, Ijewere advocated for the creation of favorable conditions and support for farmers and agro-producers.
By Donald Effiong:
Agricultural sector experts have strongly advised President Bola Tinubu to select a qualified professional as the minister of agriculture, rather than a politician. In separate interviews with The PUNCH, these experts emphasized important areas that require attention from the incoming Nigerian government in the agricultural sector. They stressed the potential of agriculture to generate higher income for the nation.
Emmanuel Ijewere, the Coordinator of Nigeria Agri-Business Group, stated, “First and foremost, it is crucial that a politician is not appointed as the minister of agriculture. Secondly, the new government needs to recognize that agriculture is a business.” Ijewere described farmers as capitalists, emphasizing that they are not government employees. He further explained that farmers should be provided with a conducive environment to thrive.
Ijewere also highlighted the importance of local government areas in agricultural activities, stating, “Agriculture is predominantly a local practice, so local governments must be empowered to fulfill their developmental roles.” He discouraged the government from providing subsidies to farmers, as it can be exploited by fraudulent individuals at the expense of both farmers and the government. Instead, Ijewere advocated for the creation of favorable conditions and support for farmers and agro-producers.
Additionally, Ijewere emphasized the need for collaboration between the government and institutions like the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to enhance agricultural practices. He urged the government to focus on training individuals in local government areas to facilitate advancements in agriculture.
Kabir Ibrahim, the President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, called for reforms in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. He emphasized the proper implementation of the current agricultural policy, which should extend until 2027. Ibrahim also stressed the importance of reviving the National Food Reserves Agency and developing a comprehensive food strategy plan.
Ibrahim further urged the inclusion of farmers in decision-making processes and highlighted the need for the creation of an enabling environment for farmers to maximize their productivity. He expressed the hope that the President’s plans to establish hubs in all zones of the country and build storage facilities would focus on cold storage to reduce post-harvest losses. Ibrahim emphasized the importance of supervising and following up on these initiatives to ensure their successful implementation. Additionally, he called for the appointment of competent individuals to manage various agencies with responsibilities related to agriculture and for a more effective distribution of interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reach actual farmers.