Some associations in the Agric sector have asked President Bola Tinubu to ensure that the N100 billion agriculture fund is disbursed through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to avoid bottlenecks in accessing the funds.
The National Agricultural Commodities Projects (NACP) and Strategic Alliance of Presidents of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (SAPACAN) made the call on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the President of Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, Dr Bello Abubakar, said this while addressing newsmen in Abuja.
He appealed that the President should approve 70 per cent of the fund to be disbursed as grants, while 30 per cent of it to be disbursed as loans respectively
He suggested the setting up of an implementation committee, and its membership to include the National Presidents of the four priority commodities.
He said the committee’s task would be to immediately design the strategy that would help to mop the unsold produce in the rural areas and turn them into local food derivatives.
“The N100 billion fund should be 70% Grant and 30% Loan and the PFIs through the CBN not like previous program create unnecessary bottlenecks that will hinder easy accessing of the fund timely.
“We urge the government to ensure smooth and effective implementation of the measures and regularly engage the citizens and the organized private sector to ensure accountability.
“There should be proper monitoring and evaluation of the implementation process to ensure benefits to the people. Appropriate reprimands and sanctions should be applied for glaring infractions and wilful sabotage,” Dr Bello said.
The Associations, however, advised the government that in the short term, they should mop up Cassava, Rice, Maize and Wheat for food and animal feeds.
“Development of existing Grazing Reserves and support for the cultivation of specialized pasture and feeds for Livestock, in collaboration with with willing state governments, should also be given the required attention.
“The president should reinforce the cultivation of the priority crops and livestocks by supporting widespread mechanization and training of extension workers across the country,” he said.
Speaking on the N500 billion approved by the National Assembly, the Associations urged government to closely monitor the banking sector in the provision of these loan facilities so that the eventual cost of funds is not above 9 per cent from other banking fees and charges.
“The focus on improving food production by supporting cultivation of 500,000 hectares of farmland and all-year-round farming practice is a welcome initiative.
He suggested that N200 billion out of the N500 billion approved by the National Assembly should be managed by a special team involving the entire Agricultural Value Chain to avoid the mistakes of the previous administration.
“Multi stakeholder involvement in funds management and disbursement would ensure synergy and collective operations to the mutual benefit of all involved and the Nation at large,” he added.
Bello requested that the planned release of 200,000 Metric Tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and FCT, to moderate prices, should include the Leadership of NACP and SAPACAN for easy access and equitable distribution to teeming members, who constitute the bulk of the target beneficiaries.
“NACP & SAPACAN should also be part of the distribution of 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, seedlings and other inputs to farmers, in order to ensure proper targeted so as to assure productive achievement of our food security agenda,” Bello noted.
“Security has not been given sufficient attention in the President’s pronouncements yet. It is also of utmost importance to deal with the issue of insecurity because, without security, there can be no prosperity.
“If the issue of insecurity is not adequately dealt with, the implementation of these strategies could be in jeopardy”, he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that President Tinubu during a Nationwide broadcast recently, approved N50 billion for the cultivation of 150,000 hectares of rice and maize and another N50 billion for cultivation of 100,000 hectares of wheat and cassava. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng).