The All Farmers Association of Nigeria has urged the Federal Government to build on the successes recorded in 2019 to ensure food self-sufficiency and security in 2020.

It also commended the government for the improvement recorded in some major agricultural value chains last year.

Its Chairman in Lagos State, Mr Femi Oke, gave advice on Thursday in Lagos while reviewing the sector’s 2019 performance and highlighting expectations for the sector in 2020.

Oke, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, said that the continued closure of the nation’s land borders had yielded positive results, adding there was a boost in farm produce across all major value chains.

The association chairman said that poultry, aquaculture and rice farmers witnessed huge patronage in 2019.

On expectation in 2020, he said that government at all levels must provide conducive environment for farming by giving priority to farmers, machineries, improving existing infrastructure, opening and expansion of access roads to farmlands.

“There are a lot of expectations from the government in making the environment conducive for farming, which include extension service support, provision of farm inputs, security, grants as well as training.

“If all these can be provided, we believe there will be improvement in the sector in 2020 as regards food security and sufficiency in Nigeria.

“There were improvements in the sector in 2019, with regard to some commodities such as poultry farming and crops farming like grains, rice and others.

“The farmers made huge sales in 2019. We will like the government to sustain the tempo and even surpass it in 2020,” Oke said.

He also commended Nigerians for their patronage in 2019, saying that the success was better than 2018.

According to him, people patronised local produce very well and farmers really applauded that in the area of success of what they gained in 2019 compared with 2018.

“We believe 2020 will be better than 2019,” the AFAN chairman said.

Oke urged Nigerians to stop calling Nigeria-made produce ‘local’, adding that there was nothing local about them, but only indigenous to the country.

“Many people now patronise what they call local products, and I don’t believe our commodities are local because every community and country have its own homegrown produce.

“There is nothing like local rice, fish, chicken and others. I don’t think so. They are homegrown produce, made in Nigeria. This is what we produce here in on our soil,” he said.

Oke also urged investors to explore the opportunities in sale of machinery for farming following the improvement recorded in the sector in 2019.

He said government did not place much tax on importation of machinery and tools, adding that now was a good opportunity for investors to come in and support the sector.

Oke, however, commended the Federal Government for the increase in budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector.

He said the sector’s budget increment rose to almost five per cent of the total budget, adding it was a good back-up from all the agitations before now.

Oke said that the sector budget had always been about two per cent, one and a half per cent and two per cent.

He said that though there was an increase in 2020 budget, the increase was still not enough.

The AFAN chairman said that the association would like the government to concentrate on improving infrastructure, providing farm machineries and farm inputs to farmers in 2020.

PUNCH

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