Declare state of emergency in agriculture sector revolution, Reps tell Buhari

• call for harmonious food for all campaign 

The House of Representatives on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the agriculture sector with the view to activate aggressive agricultural revolution and promote food security as a benchmark to revamping other sectors of the economy in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to diversify Nigeria’s economy to ensure food security in the Post COVID-19 pandemic era’, sponsored by Hon. Dozie Ferdinand Nwankwo, who stressed the need for Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Commercial and Agricultural Banks to provide more incentives to farmers through very attractive loan facilities.

In his lead debate, Hon. Nwankwo cited the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) report which stated that about 820 million people across the globe are already suffering from hunger while the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic rages.

He maintained that “Nigeria does not have a robust food reserve owing to the fact that majority of the farmers still practise subsistence farming and there is inadequate availability of incentives to promote agriculture, herdsmen crises, post-harvest losses and one-season practice.

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“The house is aware that with the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown, there is a total disruption of the supply chain in the food sector as farmers have been prevented from attending to their farming activities in both subsistence and mechanised methods, there are obvious shortages of fertilizers, insecticides and other agricultural materials as well as non-existent access to banks which are to inspect their farms as a prerequisite to granting agricultural loans.

“The house is concerned that with the crashed in the price of crude oil in the international market, being Nigeria’s main source of revenue, the country is faced with the reality poor economic planning during the boom days been a major part of the national dilemma, leading to the urgent need to diversify into aggressive agricultural development to ensure sustainable food security after the COVID-19.

“The house is also concerned that the devastation of the economy by COVID-19 pandemic has left farmers in despair and weak market regulation that has introduced speculations and unfavourable indecisions in food production.

“The House is worried that social safety nets are not yet employed to ensure that the vulnerable in society do not get exposed unnecessarily while scouting for food.

“The house is also worried that the collective efforts required to ensure the synergy to promote and sustain a resilient food system are still not in place, thus creating a huge gap that will and adversely affect the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.

“The House is cognizant of the need to promote safety guidelines to prevent zoonotic diseases that can cause new outbreaks just as world bodies like FAO, IMF and World Bank should make countries not to impose serious trade protectionist policies that will not favour disadvantaged nations,” he noted.

To this end, the house urged the executive arm to prioritise food production by promoting interests in aggressive farming through the subsidised provision of fertilizers, agricultural implements and loans as well as other incentives to encourage all persons to venture into food production.

The house also stressed the need for the government to encourage all Nigerians, cutting across all walks of life: politicians, lawmakers, businessmen, civil and public servants, students and others to get involved in the food-for-all campaign by starting up any form of agricultural activity to ensure that all hands are on deck.

In the same vein, the lawmakers urged Federal Ministry of Agriculture to sensitise the populace on the viability of practising all-year-round or all-season-farming while taking advantage of the vast fertile Nigerian soil to reconnect the supply chain that was cut by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the bid to achieve the feat, the house called on the Executive Arm to improve its support to the agricultural sector through the supply of improved seedlings and hybrid species to stimulate bumper harvests; just as it underscored the need for all other sectors to synergise efforts toward a harmonious Food-for-all Campaign that will engender food sufficiency and safeguard against the upsurge in crime and hunger.

The house further called on the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to urgently formulate a viable and structured food policy to ensure all year round food sufficiency for the country.

In order to ensure compliance, the House mandated the joint Committee on Agricultural Production and Services and Banking, and Currency to ensure compliance.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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