N200BN AGRIC FUND: NACCIMA ADVOCATES INCREASED CROPS CULTIVATION
As the Federal Government gets set to begin disbursement of the promised N200bn agric fund, the governors of the 36 states of the federation have been advised to encourage increased cultivation of cash and food crops in their various domains.
Making the call in a statement made available to our correspondent in Lagos on Thursday, the President of the Nigerian Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Dr. Simon Chukwuemeka Okolo, who presented the position of the association, said this could be done through the provision of improved seedlings to farmers in their states.
He said the agricultural repackaging programme was needed to enhance greater agricultural production and improved standards of living for the people.
Some of the cash and food crops that used to make the Nigerian economy thick before the discovery of crude oil included palm produce, maize, millet, sorghum, cocoa, groundnuts, rice, cassava, yams, cocoa yam and animal husbandry, among others.
Okolo said going back to the cultivation of these crops in commercial and mechanised forms will help immensely in the nation's attempt to diversify its economy and revenue base.
The NACCIMA boss, in the statement, decried the woeful effects, which the neglect of agriculture had brought on the national economy. He said that the provision of improved farm crop seedlings to the farmers by the various state governors will help renew the people's interest in farming.
He said this recourse needed a strategic planning by the governors, if they were to encourage increased agricultural production in their areas and enhance both their states' revenue base and the standards of living of their people
However, he chided them for their over reliance on federal allocation, which had led to the neglect of the agricultural potential in their various states, a situation that had engendered mass poverty among the people.
He, therefore, urged the governors 'to seek ways to make agriculture attractive to their people, by introduction of mechanised farming in their states.
'They should also provide improved food and cash crop seedlings to their people to encourage their youths to embrace large scale agricultural production, which will lead to the enhancement of the people's living standards.'
He added, 'If serious efforts are not made now to resuscitate agriculture in the country, Nigerians will, undoubtedly, face very grim future and hunger.'
According to him, 'Nigeria's over dependence on crude oil revenue has now thrown up the dire need to diversify the country's revenue base through increased agricultural production and manufacturing.'
He blamed the governors' lack of vision, which he said, had orchestrated abject neglect of their people's sole means of livelihood, agriculture.
He, therefore, called on them to revive the cultivation of the crops, as might be suitable to their various states in the interest of the people and the economy.