Access to arable land for agriculture is stifling the productivity of farmers in the Niger Delta region of the country, a group, Foundation for Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND), has said.
The disclosure was made at a roundtable organised by the civic organisation on Wednesday.
According to Chuks Ofulue, PIND’s advocacy manager, increased access to agricultural land will improve the quality of lives of vulnerable citizens in the Niger Delta region.
Mr Ofulue explained that access to land is the fundamental means through which the poor can ensure food supplies to generate income through production and processing.
“Yet, access to arable land remains a major constraint to the increased productivity of small farm holders in Nigeria, particularly the Niger Delta,” he lamented.
“As you know, Niger Delta suffers from a shortage of arable land based on the fact that it is surrounded by water.”
The organisation also launched a report on the various factors affecting farmer’s productivity in the region.
Presenting the report, Biyi Daramola, a professor at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, said the insecurity concerns in the region and across the country revolve around issues of access to land.
Represented by Adegboyega Oguntade, another lecturer in the same university, the professor said availability of land is limited by extant regulations.
Meanwhile, PIND said in its report that the study was informed by the need to understand the public policies of the three focal states (Delta, Edo, and Ondo) with respect to access to agricultural land and how such policies are being implemented.
“Starting with the national policies and efforts at alleviating the problems of access to agricultural land some past and present policies and programmes of the federal government were reviewed,” it said.
“To get a proper handle on these issues, it is important to adopt a value chain approach since it affords the opportunity to comprehensively study the factors influencing such issues.”
PIND says the study revealed the state of affairs in access to agricultural land in the three states covered, adding that many of the states are not doing enough to assist the real farmers in expanding their farming businesses.
“They are not doing enough in assisting some vulnerable groups such as unemployed youths and women in their quest to access agricultural land for productive ventures,” the report said.
“As for the big investors with enough resources, the story is different as they can access significant land with the assistance of the state governors. In general, the three states acknowledge the fact that access to land is a big problem and binding constraint in agricultural production.”
In its recommendations, PIND called on the government to encourage the communities to donate land for agricultural and other uses; directly acquire land for public interest as enshrined in the constitution; open up primary and secondary forests for agricultural purposes; and build access road to farmland.
It also urged the government to determine the fertility of the soil to provide farmers with appropriate recommendations on fertilizer application and provide improved agricultural inputs at subsidized rate.
The report urged communities to come out with a guideline on land acquisition which should be witnessed by all the approved structural representatives; encourage people to form a cooperative society; set up a committee to deal with all land issues where offenders should be appropriately sanctioned, among other measures.
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