Adewunmi Adesina, the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has the lamented various tribulations faced by Nigerian farmers saying “they sow in hope and reap in tears.”
Mr Adesina made the statement on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting of stakeholders on ‘Action Plan for Cassava Transformation in Nigeria’. He said the aim of the action plan was to increase the income of 1.8 million farming families to $450 dollars per annum and add 1.2 million jobs to the cassava sub-sector.
The minister said that Nigerian farmers were not even sure who to sell their produce to because they did not have access to the technology that could help them to increase the value of their produce, noting that the average Nigerian farmer had no access to most of the fundamental inputs of farming, including fertiliser.
“There are no institutions to link farmers to finance, right to market to guarantee his price as well as institutions to put the right policies in place, Adesina said, describing Nigeria as the largest producer of cassava in the world.
He said that although the country produced 40 million metric tones of cassava tubers per annum, there were no value added to the large quantity of tuber crop produced annually in the country.
Adesina pointed out that for federal government’s transformation agenda in the agriculture sector to be meaningful, government should not run the sector alone, pointing out that implementation of the value-added chain activities in the cassava sub-sector, would be driven by the private sector with support from the public sector.
“We will rapidly set up an organised cassava market that will be run by the private sector and government will only facilitate, promote and regulate it,” he said.
Adesina said that government would place more emphasis on value-addition by focusing on the production of high-quality cassava, saying: “In order to boost cassava production in the country, there will be easy access to finance for farmers, agro-millers, seed processors and food manufacturers.”
He said that the government also planned to establish staple crops processing zones for farmers to process their produce, adding that the federal government was determined to bring to an end to the era of companies leaving Nigeria for Ghana to invest.
He called on stakeholders to rise to the challenges of feeding the nation by linking farmers to the right markets and also creating wealth for farmers.