Osariemen Amas-Edobor, programme manager, of West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), has urged relevant stakeholders in the socio-economic and political sphere of the country to consider agriculture as a means of addressing the emerging security challenges and agitations for sustainable development.
Amas-Edobor made this known at the end of a sensational workshop on Farmers Manifesto conducted by the group between January 29 and January 31, 2019, in Bauchi state with the support of OXFAM.
A total of 312 participants, including 17 political candidates attended the sensitization workshop for small scale farmers (SSFs) and engagement with political parties in the state.
She noted that it had been recognised that enhanced agricultural performance in the country is key to growth and poverty reduction through its direct impact on increasing job opportunities, especially for women and youths, food security and improved nutrition.
“The Nigerian agricultural sector is second largest contributor (about 24%) to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” she said.
“Nonetheless, these farmers appear to be the poorest constituency in Nigeria. As shown by statistics, smallholder farmers constitute over 75% of the electorates, thus making the constituency the largest voting population in Nigeria, so therefore it becomes imperative for the specific needs of smallholder farmers to be of priority to Policy makers.
“It is in recognition of the challenges faced by SSFs in Nigeria that Small Holder Farmers Groups (SHFGs) now rises to organize and link up with relevant national platforms with a view to enhancing their voice and increasing their capacity to influence policies in and out of the agricultural sector resulting to the development of a MANIFESTO.”
Amas-Edobor explained that farmers’ manifesto is a documentation of the specific needs of Nigerian farmers as a basis for a bargain between farmers and political office seekers, prior and after elections.
She said the need for government at all levels and other stakeholders to provide local farmers with credit loan, fertilizer and improvement of agricultural extension services.
She revealed that statistics have showed that over 75 percent of food consumed by the people were produced by the local farmers hence the need to help them operate effectively and boost production.
Also speaking, Iliyasu Aliyu Gital, programme manager, Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme, said the state government will not relent in supporting local farmers to enhance their farming activities.
Gital commended the organisers of the programme, saying it is aimed at uplifting the small-scale farmers not only in Bauchi but in the country at large.
He also called on participants to feel free and open up their problems so that it will give the organisers the opportunity to confront the policy makers with the said problems with a view to assisting the small farmers who produced most of the food we eat in Nigeria.