Frank Ikpefan and Olugbenga Adanikin,
A group of farmers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has demanded urgent need for the Federal Government to establish Agriculture Commodity Marketing Board.
The farmers who spoke during a meeting with the Programme Director of African Centre for Food, Agriculture and Sustainable Development (Afri-CASD), Bolaji Akindehinde yesterday in Abuja said the board would help regulate arbitrary pricing of farm commodities.
The farmers sought support of the Centre to further advocate necessity of the board to increase food production and promote large scale farming.
They said it was inappropriate for farmers to be at the mercy of buyers among other end users before farm harvests are sold.
A representative of the farmer, Mr. Sulieman Azeez said, “Farmers are suffering in this country. This is a country where the buyers fix the price for our farm produce. But if there is agriculture commodity marketing board, you cannot tell me you will buy my rice for N5 when everyone knows in the country that it is being regulated for sales for N10 across the country.
“So it is bad for farmers not to have control over sales of their farm produce.”
In his remarks, Akindehinde disclosed that the erstwhile Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina showed the zeal to setup the commodity board but little was heard thereafter.
He said such agency would better lots of the farmers and boost the nation’s overall food production.
Akindehinde cited an instance of South Africa, United States and some advanced countries which regulates and guarantee markets for farmers’ yields to prevent post-harvest losses.
According to him, if the nation must be food secured, farmers who are responsible for this giant responsibility should be properly taken care of.
Speaking on the Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the previous government, the farmers urged the present administration to continue with the agenda especially on the various value-chain programmes.
He said though the administration is still young but emphasized need for the coming Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to make the issue a core agenda.
Akindehinde emphasized need to sustain the various value-chain programmes flagged by the previous administration.
“If we must get it right by properly motivating our farmers, the agric sector should be accorded same attention given to the NNPC. Imagine that the sector has a department like the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Committee (PPPRC) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) also performing a similar function in the agriculture sector farmers would do much more than expected,” he added.
Among initiatives considered laudable is the electronic wallet (e-wallet), Growth Enhancement Support scheme (GES), subsidized mechanization supports to farmers and private sectors involvement in the sector’s transformation.