The Lagos Chamber of Commerce wants the incoming All Progressives Congress administration to reduce the current 26 percent interest rates and review policies to enable farmers to survive and increase food production in the country
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Apr. 20, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE Agric Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, has emphasized the need for the incoming administration of the All Progressives Congress to review the implementation of the existing agricultural policies in Nigeria. This it said will help to boost local food production and enhance food security in the country. On Tuesday, April 7, the group said that lack of implementation had been the bane of good agricultural policies formulated by successive governments.
Wale Oyekoya, chairman, Agric Group, LCCI and managing director, Bama Farms Limited, said, “Our fact-finding shows that our government has made serious efforts at making good agricultural policies through schemes, programmes and institutions, but has not been able to implement or back them up with adequate budgetary allocation and financing, coupled with corruption in the execution of the formidable policies.”
He listed policies such as the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, Nigerian Incentive-based Risk-sharing in Agriculture, Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund Act, Agricultural Development Trust Fund Credit, Guarantee Fund Credit, Agricultural Produce Finance and Multi Channels Agricultural Financing Scheme, among others, as some of the good policies. “But the same government has failed woefully in implementing all these laudable policies. Propaganda and corruption have taken the stage of our policies, and farmers suffered the consequence,” he said.
Oyekoya added that a lot of funds, including loans and grants, such as the N200 billion CACS scheme in 2007, $3 billion by USAID in January 2013, World Bank’s $300,000 should have made the country self-sufficient in food production rather than depending on importation, adding that a big chunk of the money was embezzled. “Our commercial banks need to be restructured and mandated to fund real farmers and not political farmers. No farmers can survive on the current commercial interest rate of 26 percent. The agriculture sector accounted for less than one per cent of the portfolio of banks.
“Nigeria still spends about N1billion daily to import rice into the country and depleting our foreign reserves. Yearly, we import foods worth over N450bilion; foods that can be produced in Nigeria by local farmers if the business environment is conducive. All these food items can be abundantly produced in Nigeria, but corruption, selfish interest of our leaders and propaganda has crippled the sector.”
According to him, farmers are closing up their farms because of inconsistent government policies, policy somersault, lack of funds, high cost of feed materials and poor infrastructure. He said foreign investors would automatically come into the country if the environment was conducive. The LCCI group recommended that at least 10 per cent of the country’s annual budget should be devoted to agriculture and the review of subsisting schemes and reforms to make them more supportive of farm output.