Tuesday, February 21, 2017 10:46 am
Some farmers have appealed to the Federal Government to facilitate prompt disbursement of agriculture loans to them to improve cassava production in the country.
They made the appeal when they spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
Pastor Timothy Soladoye, a cassava farmer, said the late disbursement of agriculture funds had contributed to low harvest, production and high prices of cassava derivates in the markets.
Soladoye is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Bolfem Corporate Services Limited.
He said the delay of the loans and inputs to farmers was also a threat to food security and export, especially cassava and its derivatives in the county.
“The issue of BOA and BoI, I do not know how government will address it better, but when the government releases agric money, they do not disburse timely.
“Last year, they did not disburse this fund timely and when they eventually did, we planted but cattle ate up half of them.
“This is the major reason why prices of cassava derivates are high and in short supply today because we have to add money to recover what we lost.
“As of now, the funds should have been in the bank in preparation for the wet season farming.
“Farmers suppose to have submitted applications for the loan. At the inset of rains, funds should be released but when funds for clearing of land is released in July, where do we go.
“The funds should be in batches, clearing should be now, tractor should be now, then money for seedlings and fetiliser will come when the rains start.
“We are supposed to start farming by May round the country when the rains start and if they start disbursing fertiliser by October, what then do we use it for?
“Fertiliser is supposed to be ready now if they want to disburse fertiliser. The disbursement of fund must not be delayed this time if food security must be achieved,’’ he said.
According to him, Bank of Agriculture and Industry should work with farmers associations to reduce cases of disbursement of agriculture loans to portfolio farmers at the detriment of real farmers.
The farmer expressed concern over the non-funding of the Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) in the states.
He called on governments at all levels to adequately fund the ADPs to assist farmers and encourage youths into farming business.
“The Agricultural Development Project (ADPs) in states is no longer working because they are no longer funded.
“In time past, farmers call them to assist them grade the roads to their farms, those equipment are no longer there.
“Now, when you ask them, they say they do not have tractors. We need to involve the grassroots to make agriculture viable in the country’’.
He decried the dearth of agriculture extension officers in the ADPs, adding that they were meant to help educate farmers on current trends in farming.
Mr Justus Kachikwu, the Chairman, Cassava Farmers Association in Delta, said that farmer had no access to mechanised equipment to make farming interesting and improve production in the country.
Kachikwu appealed to governments at all levels to procure and distribute farm inputs and equipment to farmers to ensure economy diversification through agriculture.
He appealed to the Federal Government to urgently address the issue of farmers-herdsmen clashes across the country.
Mr Kola Adeniji, also a cassava farmer and the Managing Director of Niji Group, referred to cassava as `another oil’ which could be used to revive the economy of the country.
According to him, cassava can grow in every part of the country and in any soil and almost every part of cassava it is useful.
“The leaves are useful, the stem and you can get to 10 different products from the root and the peels too,’’ he said.
Adeniji called for aggressive steps from the government and private sector to assist farmers to improve production for local production and export.