ASABA/Nigeria: The participants in a one day presentation on Community Participatory Assessment of Government Expenditure on Agriculture (National and States) Community scores cards on Smallholder Farmers Accessibility to Agriculture Financing in Nigeria, has called on the state government to aggressively provide agriculture credit facilities to the sectors.
The participants at the event in Asaba during the presentation of the report by Actionaid Nigeria and Envirumedic, non governmental organisations, said that the assessment programme is part of the Public Financing of Agricultural (PFA) projects being implemented aimed at strengthening the capacity of the farmers federations and women organisations to enable them engage directly with the government agencies and institutions for effective agriculture budgets allocation and utilization that favours smallholders women farmers.
Delivering the assessment report, the Chief Executive officer of Envirumedic, Chief Monday Rouna Itoghor, said the assessment which was carried out in 8 states, including the federal capital territory, showed that in Delta state, while many farmers were aware that there are government incentives for smallholder farmers to access to improve their productivity, these incentives does not get to them, as bureaucratic procedures mitigate the access process.
Participants, among other bottlenecks in accessing government facilities by smallholder farmers, asked for the abolition of the use of a very senior public servant as guarantors, and advocated for community leaders and women leaders to act as guarantors for the sector.
They also frowned at the late release of information on some of the incentives to the public, few days to the expiration to the public. This they agreed is not good for the development of effective agriculture policy in the country, especially in Delta state.
Chief Itoghor in an Interview said that the study has shown that 70 percent of food production consumed in the state is produced by smallholder farmers, and these numbers of farmers if assisted will solve the food security of the state and the nation, and equally add to the national earnings through value adding and exports.
He reminded Nigerians that event has shown globally that place of oil as a major income earner for a country is no longer possible, as event in many oil producing countries has shown. He called for the government to implement the Maputo Agreement on 10 percent on Agriculture, and the Malabu Declaration on Economic Growth on Agriculture and Diversity Accessibility Livelihood.
Also speaking, Mrs Onose Martha of Community Empowerment Initiative and Development said that the smallholder farmers are the real food providers, and need such encouragement, and they should not be put at the background.
She however, called on the group, especially the women farmers to use their associations and numbers to aggressively seek out and obtain the necessary facilities from the government.
“They should seek for information not to relax in the villages waiting for someone to bring the needed information to them.”
Mr. Oloku Sunday Azuka a Deputy Director from the Delta State Ministry of Agriculture, while appreciating the presentation assured that the observations raised by the finding and participants will be looked into, as they are agent of policy formulation for the government, who are well interested in the smallholder farmers, because of their place in the provision of food on the table of Deltans, as the findings will help in the achievement of the SMART agenda of the present government in the state.
Attendees of the presentation were invited NGO’s, executives of the Smallholders Women Farmers, officials of the state ministry of Agriculture, the Delta State of Assembly, Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry.