Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council, FEC has approved a new roadmap for agriculture. Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, says the policy document titled ‘The Green Alternative’ was endorsed at Wednesday’s FEC meeting in Abuja.
The Minister says the ‘The Green Alternative’ outlines virtually every policy the country needs to undertake to achieve self- sufficiency in agriculture and also to become a major exporter of agricultural products.
According to Ogbeh, the policy document also contains the roadmap for agricultural operations in the next three years as well as policies and objectives in trying to see agriculture as the next biggest alternative in Nigeria’s drive to diversify the economy.
Ogbeh say “We are working hard on the staples to satisfy local production and we are fully aware that there is a major concern for food self-sufficiency in the country and that there is crisis in many families as a result of serious shortage of food.
“But the point is that where we are going we believe that in a short while, another year and half in the maximum we should be reasonably self sufficient in grains like rice, maize, beans, we may not achieve everything in wheat but we will be very close to our targets. Other things are also there in the roadmap. That is what council endorsed this afternoon.”
He says the document also outlines measures to tackle the raging crisis between herdsmen and farmers while a pilot programme to stop herdsmen from roaming is being planned for the Federal Capital Territory. He said: “We have got very good seeds of grass which we are going to start planting. Eventually and in the next one year, I hope we shall move most of our cows into ranches and reserves depending on the terminology people want to hear.
“Some people don’t want to hear about grazing reserves and government has no intention of forcing anyone to surrender one inch of land.
“Some states are willing, we shall develop these things in their domain, cows will move in there, they will be given the best grass for cattle. Most of these grasses contain 18 per cent protein and amino acid, so the cows can feed well, have good water to drink and give us the best milk and beef.”
Also, the new policy may see the introduction of payment of security fees for the protection of farmers against kidnappers and other intruders who may want to invade their farmland.
Minister for Agriculture, says this is one of the measure government is considering.
“I had a meeting with the Minister of Interior, we were looking at security situation in agriculture. Sometime last year, some gunmen went to Olu Falae’s farm, a Nigerian of stature, in age and ranking and took him away and marched him around, forced him to trek ten kilometres, even carried him on their backs.
“Many more farmers are coming in, including foreign investors and they stand the risk of being subjected to this kind of humiliation.
“So, we are talking with Ministry of Interior that we have to put measures in place. These things are happening in other countries too, where the civil defence corps may have to train a special department to protect huge investors and investment in their farms for a fee, because kidnapping will not stop.
“From the security point of view, we have to take measures to make sure that people who invest are protected.
“In other countries of the world you may have noticed that people live on their farms, you hardly see a farmer who lives in the city, he lives on the farm with his family, you cannot do that here. They will come and take you, your wife and children in the name of kidnapping, we have to stop it and we have to use the legitimate instrument of state to do it because the farmer has no right to buy an AK47 to protect himself.”