Non-passage of key agricultural bills worries Nigerian farmers, experts

Farmers [Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria]
Farmers [Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria]

Farmers and experts last Friday lamented that two bills, the fertiliser quality control bill and the seed bill are yet to get presidential assent; while a third, the warehouse regulatory bill is yet to be passed by the National Assembly.

These bills, among others, will ensure that farmers enjoy high yields of agriculture produce. They will also promote adequate manpower, disease resistant varieties and unadulterated fertilisers, the experts said at the dialogue organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group in Abuja.

They will also lead to increased soil fertility, sustainable profit, improved storage facilities and also aid the availability of agricultural produce all year round.

The seed bill, promoted by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), will provide an opportunity to align Nigerian seeds system with ECOWAS seed regulatory framework.

It will also ensure regulation of foreign-bred varieties before release into the Nigerian market.

The fertiliser bill will protect the interest of farmers against nutrient deficiencies, adulteration and short weight. It will also safeguard the interest of fertiliser enterprises.

Appeals

A farmer, Mary Ishaya, said the benefits of the bills have not been explained to farmers.

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She said a lot of vegetables are produced by farmers “and they get spoilt due to poor storage facilities.”

“Since I grew up, I have never seen a warehouse for agric goods,” she said.

She, however, said there is a need for the bills to be passed quickly. She said fertilisers are expensive as farmers no longer have access to subsidised ones.

She disclosed that farmers have resolved to use organic fertilisers because they are cheaper “and do not destroy the soil.”

“We also want to have access to credit,” she said.

A fertiliser expert, Ishaka Buba, said the fertiliser bill will help ensure quality outputs by farmers.

He said many industries produce substandard products. “There is need for the bill so that the product can be regulated,” he said.

Mr Buba lamented that farmers are helpless as they are being cheated by the manufacturers.

A farmer, Timi Agaba said warehouses will help build sustainable agriculture in Nigeria. He said they will help reduce wastage of agricultural produce during and after harvest.

“Without good warehouses, farmers are forced to sell below the cost price,” he said. He said the warehouses may not be sufficient but will be affordable to small scale farmers.

A member of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Feyi Ajayi, said the bills are important for the economic development of the country.

Ms Ajayi said many farmers put in a lot of efforts but they harvest little or nothing.

“Some fertilisers damage the soil. Even after production they (farmers) lack storage capacity,” she said.

Ms Ajayi said NESG will ensure that the bills are passed into law and implemented.

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