Nigerian farmers is anxiously looking up to the National Assembly (NASS) to pass the Fertilizer, Seed and Warehouse receipt system Bills which are currently undergoing debates for passage, and have delayed for a long time.
The three bills are intended to achieve high yields, disease resistant varieties, unadulterated fertiliser, increased soil fertility, improved soil health, longer shelf life of agricultural produce, increased and sustainable profit, improved and affordable storage facilities, availability of agricultural produce all year round.
Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) are working together to see how laws can be enacted to regulate quality of the inputs (seeds and fertiliser) and to avoid duplication of oversight functions in the warehouse receipt system.
The Seed Bill being currently promoted by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) will provide an opportunity to align Nigerian seeds system with ECOWAS seed regulatory framework and will also ensure regulation of foreign bred varieties for release on domestic markets.
The Fertiliser Bill will safeguard the interest of farmers against nutrient deficiencies, adulteration, misleading claims, short weight, etc. It will also safeguard the interest of fertiliser enterprises, contribute to the creation of enabling environment for private sector investment in the fertiliser industry and improve the productivity of the entire agricultural sector.
The predicaments of smallholder farmers include post-harvest storage and pricing of their harvests. Farmers often lack access to credit to meet the needs of increased adoption of improved seed and use of fertiliser, and farmers are often forced to sell at lower prices immediately after harvest. The benefits of warehouse receipt system include quality control, serving as clearing house, source of supplies to processors and access to international commodity prices.
Individual farmers are not good traders, but they could benefit from the warehouse receipt system. With the warehouse receipt system, farmers will leverage as collateral for loans from financial institutions. It will encourage farmers and processors to store their grains in standard storage facilities with proper collateral management solutions in place, thereby reducing post-harvest losses.
During a sensitization Workshop for farmers in the North Central of Nigeria, the organizers took time to explain to journalists the essence of having those three bills passed by the National Assembly and accented to by the President.
The sensitization Workshop which jointly organized by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The National president, Association of small scale Agriculture producers in Nigeria (ASSAPIN), Joshua Jonathan while speaking with journalists, said if the three bills are passed by the National Assembly, farmers would have good quality seeds and fertilizers and also have storage facilities for his crop.
He said their main main duty is to organise and mobilse the farmers across the country so that they can have a voice be recognized and be able to access some of the incentives rolled out by the government, and be empowered.
“Once you have land, you are limited by the land first, and then the size of the land that they are producing, the capacity in terms of finances is not there, the need to be enhanced and improved so that they can improve their productivity.
“If the bills are eventually passed by the National Asembly, the farmers will have the correct input- fertiliser quality, seed quality and have where he can store his products at the end.
“It will be beneficial because they have the correct Fertilizer, they buy fertiliser at very high cost and yet they are not getting the product that can drive their productivity to the highest level.
“Also if you don’t have extnsion services that will guide you in terms of the type of land, the type of fertilser you need to apply at what time and at what rate, if you dont have these technicalities, it will be very difficult for you to reach the highest productivity of a particular crop.
“If the national Assembly will do us a favour to pass these bill it will be good to our farmers, alot of benefits will come to our farmers”, Jonathan said.
The consultant, Folusho Olaniyan of Agroware Nigeria Limited, who was represented by Dr. Olukayode Oyeleye as a facilitator at the workshop said there have been a gap in the agricultural value chain.
Dr Oyeleye explained that “the agricultural value chain have not been properly fixed in Nigeria, there have been a lot of gap, and we want to know if this kind of sensitisation can help close this gap, for instance, there are quality inputs like seeds and fertilizers are very critical to good agricultural produce, there also make life very easy for the producer, the case where we have farmers buying adulterated seeds and fertilizers contributes to lower agricultural produce, poor harvest, at times, no harvest at all.
“When the germination rate is low, those that manage don’t produce much, so at the end of the day, the presence of this bills are to moderate many things especially quality, accessibility and so many others. The same thing also happens when the farmer has produced.
“Studies have shown that a lot of agricultural produce goes into wind which significantly reduce it, if we really are spreading out the value chain, then let specific individuals to other jobs, and those who are involved in the warehouse business will take it as a system. It will be a rallying point for farmers.
“Agriculture needs to be treated as business and if we are treating it as business, then a lot of business opportunities will be created for people in the warehouse system. One of the of the advantage is that you can go to rest when you know someone is already taking care of your finished produce. And when you keep them there, you can also use your commodities for bank loans, in terms of creating market opportunity, you know one of the problems we have is that market is not favouring the farmers, we have the agrigators who are involved in this warehouse system, if you want to buy, quality of products, then you can contact them.
“The farmers cannot be waiting for the government always because waiting for them actually delay and frustrates a lot of things because most farmers don’t get help from the government even when they are good intentions at the government levels, many of those who gain from the government are those who have links, but this bills in place, there will quality control system, then the buyers will be sure of what they are buying, then the warehouse system, there will be standard they have to follow, and they have to meet with the expectations of the customers.
“A lot will be achieved when the bill is being passed. If the public does not lend their voice to the bills, the government might lapse. And we will have to start all over again. So we are calling for the speedy passage of the bills”.
Yarima Adu Charles, the National Programme Coordinator, ASSAPIN said part of what they are doing is to equip the farmers with vital information to speak on the issues of the Fertiliser Control Bill, Seed bill and many other bills so that after they have elected the Legislatures into power, they will follow it up again to see what they can do to ensure that these bills are passed into law.
“So when these farmers are going back at the weekend ASSAPIN as an organization is not there, but when these farmers have the information on what is requesting at the National Assembly, they could speak with these lawmakers on the Fertiliser Control Bill, Seed Council Bill, Warehouse Receipt System, Bill”.
Farming activities in Nigeria cannot be done without having access to improved seeds, and good quality fertilizers. These two things are critical even though land is also one of the critical aspects of it.
By the time you have improved seeds and access to fertilizer so that you would be able to engage in appropriate farming techniques and you embark on effective farm management it would increase yield to farmers per hectare, and when the yield increase the farmers will have surplus in productivity and sell, also to take care of other welfare issues concerning them and their families.
“When these three billas are passed int o law it has multi-sectoral impact., it would led to improved the quality of manpower in the agricultural sector, because it would lead to production of farm equipment, increased revenue generation instead on depending on borrowing and importation of these commodities that are not healthy for our consumption”, Charles noted.
Dolapo Enejor, the Project Manager Agriculture business Legislative Reforms Project, NESG said they convened farmers from North central states to sensitize them on the three agribusiness bills which has been delaying.
“We have convened farmers from within the North Central of Nasarawa, FCT and Niger states to talk to them and sensitise them about thethree agribusiness bills that have been pendig or quite a while and we have been advocating for the pasage of these three agribusiness bills which are the the Fertilizer Qulaity control bill, the Independent warehouse receipt sysytem bill and the National Agrcultutral Seed council bill.
“Some of the bills have seen about four different assemblies and is still not passed like the fertiliser quality control bill tht has been on for 16 years and still hasnt been passed”.
“So why we are advocating and sensitizing the farmers is to sensitize them to lend their voice to the passage of these bills because we cannot only have the elites talk about the bill we also senstise the major people who this bills also concern who are the smallholder farmers in Nigeria.
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