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Anniversary: AFAN advocates measures to safeguard farmers, farmlands

By Ihechinyere Chigemeri-Uwom
Umuahia, May 21, 2024

The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has urged the Federal Government to step up security measures to enhance the safety of farmers and farmlands in the country.

The South-East Coordinator of the group, Chief Dunlop Okoro, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia on Wednesday.

Okoro spoke on the first anniversary of President Bola Tinubu and the challenges faced by farmers across the federation.

He said that creating a safe environment for farmers to work and thrive must be treated as a priority by government at all levels.

According to him, improving security for farmers and farmlands remains a crucial step to ensure the stability in the agricultural sector in order to achieve food sufficiency in the country.

Okoro urged the government to take proactive measures to address farmers’ security concerns, especially attacks by bandits and kidnappers.

“The situation has been that bandits and criminals have turned farmlands into a base for their nefarious activities, making it difficult for farmers to access their farmlands.

“Every government must step up security for farmers, whether it is in the South-East or across the nation.

“The Federal Government should continue to provide security for farmers and free our farmlands from the hands of bandits so that they can safely go and cultivate their farms.

“There is still a lot left undone, therefore, efforts need to be doubled to completely drive away bandits and kidnappers to make the farms safe for farmers.

“This would encourage people to invest in agriculture.

“You cannot invest in a venture that you would not be able to get returns from because of bandits and the like,” Okoro said.

He expressed worry over the alleged “discontinuation” of the implementation of the previous administration’s policies and programmes by the the present government.

According to him, policy “somersaults” by new administrations that come into power cause serious setbacks to the agricultural sector.

“When an administration evolves a policy or programme and leaves office, any succeeding administration should continue from where the former stopped.

”Unfortunately, when the new administration takes over, it abolishes the policies and programmes of its predecessor and start something different from the scratch, instead of building on what was on ground.

“Agriculture does not play politics, so if there is a policy that the farmers are getting familiar with, a new administration should not truncate it,” Okoro said.

He said that it was refreshing to know that the Federal Government’s Renewed Hope Agenda had indicated that agriculture would be used as key to achieving food security.

He thanked the Federal Government for introducing progressive agriculture interventions for farmers, such as the 93 per cent subsidy on farm input.

He said that it would significantly impact on the sector.

“The fact still remains that the Federal Government has actually been doing different things to encourage agriculture development and achieve food sufficiency.

He expressed concern over the continued fall of the naira against the dollar and called for measures to address the issue of high cost of food items.

He said that  the present administration in Abia had showed a lot of interest in investing in agriculture.

Okoro thanked the State Government for building partnerships with agriculture agencies to enhance food security.

He said that farmers, as  implementers of the policies and  programmes of the government, must be recognised and supported.

“The government is like a catalyst and should motivate the farmers with incentives, subsidising prices of farm inputs, loans with one digit interest rate or grants.

“So, in place of giving palliatives to people, government should consider giving grants to help farmers boost their crops production.

“The public sector and politicians can also invest in agriculture in their constituencies by supporting farmers,” Okoro said.

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