Lafia – Farmers in Nasarawa State, under the aegis of Association of Small-Scale Agro Producers in Nigeria (ASSAPIN), have called on the government to formulate an agricultural policy to boost crop production .
Mr Joshua Jonathan, the state President of the association, made the call on Thursday, at a stakeholders’ town hall meeting on Food and Climate Justice, held in Lafia.
He said the policy document would spell out clear roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and attract private sector investment in local agro-processing.
“Government should as a matter of urgency convene a stakeholders’ meeting to kick start the process of formulating achievable agricultural policy that is measurable, reliable and time bound, ” Jonathan said.
He said the policy should be initiated as an executive bill and passed into law through legislation to give it sustainable legal status.
Jonathan also called for increase in budgetary allocation to agriculture by the state government by at least 10 per cent.
He said the government should provide secure access to land for small holder farmers, especially women.
According to Jonathan, the government should also increase efforts at tackling the challenges of climate change.
He commended the Gov. Umaru Al-Makura led administration for increasing the budgetary allocation in the state from 1.61 per cent in 2016 to 4.5 per cent in 2017.
Jonathan said there was need for government to, on a sustainable basis, recruit, train and deploy extension officers equipped with information technology devices to support small scale farmers.
“Agricultural extension in the state appears to have collapsed due to non-recruitment and training of new extension service providers to replace the ageing and retiring extension officers.
He explained that the essence of the town hall meeting was for stakeholders to interface and make commitment on the need for strong response to address climate change challenges.
“Climate change is real and the effects are glaring, affecting food supply resulting in hunger and poverty.
‘’It therefore behooves on leaders at all levels to take step to tackle it frontally,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was organised in collaboration with Voices for Food Security, a non- governmental organisation.
Participants include farmer groups, associations of women farmers, as well as representatives from the state Ministry of Environment. (NAN)