By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
IN its bid to advance the course for sustainable agricultural economy, value addition and revenue generation for small scale farmers, the Oxford Committee For Famine Relief, (OXFAM) has taken its core responsibility forward by engaging relevant stakeholders from Kebbi state on how best to produce an action plan that will prioritise agriculture in the state.
OXFAM, a non governmental organisation, funding and anchoring the Grow Project in collaboration with PRO Act Project funded by the European Union(EU) is saddled with the implementation of agricultural activities supported by DEC.
However, its core objectives include proferring mechanisms to address challenges in agriculture in terms of strengthening avenues for food security, malnutrition which over time, recorded progressive improvement in Kebbi state and others through its value intervention approach.
At the end of a 1 day stakeholders interface workshop in Sokoto which drew participants from various agriculture organs, CBOs, CSOs as well relevant agencies within Kebbi state a communique identifying challenges and proferring solutions to major factors militating against small holder farmers from both the government and farmers themselves was issued.
However, the interface workshop dwelled on budgetary allocation and priorities on agriculture for food security, production and revenue as driving force for sustainable development.
The communique, read by the Kebbi state chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria(AFAN), Mr Aliyu Abbas said the aim of the workshop was to among other issues deliberate and advise farmers on the need to repay back agricultural loans and also admonished governmment rondo towards resisting elites capturing of agriculture supports targeted at small holder farmers in Kebbi state.
“Stakeholders and representatives of Kebbi State Government, including Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ministry of Budget and Planning, Civil Society Organizations, Farmers groups, Women farmers as well as development partners and representatives from OXFAM met in Sokoto state, to delibrate and produce an action plan on prioritising agriculture in the State” , Abbas pointed out.
Accordingly, the communique identified how best government can improve agricultural governance with the aim of drastically reducing malnutrition and enhancing food security as well how best o encourage farmers on the need to desist from using agricultural loans for other purposes.
In the same vein, the communique emphasised the urgent for the state government to invest small grain banks to ensure availability of food in the lean season while drawing the attention of the state legislature, Ministries of Budget, Finance, Agriculture and ADP to ensure speedy release of allocation.
The communique further stressed the need for training extension workers on good agronomic practices to farmers including women and young farmers for climate change adaptation.
Explaining ealier, the GROW Project Coordinator In Nigeria, Saratu Abiola said OXFAM in collaboration with PRO Act project funded by UN and implemented by DEC has been working in 5 local government areas of Kebbi state for about 4 years with multiple records of success stories, hence the need to engage stakeholders on how best to expand the scope to other local governments of the state.
She said surveys and researches have identified predominantly that over 80% of farmers were smaller holders hence the need for OXFAM to prioritise agriculture and stake attention on Kebbi state as focal area.
” Its all about value chain, addition and food security. We have to focus on agriculture because over 75% derive their means of livelihood from agriculture.
” We have to dwell on strategic objectives to drive our mission in order to ensure government is engaged and committed to the course of advancing agriculture for the overall benefit of farmers.
” We are reaching out to improve access to inputs such that will impact in the quest for food security. All these will strengthen and galvanise the activities of especially peasant farmers in terms of capacity and yields”, She stressed.
Also, Kebbi state Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Muhammad Shehu noted that the synergy with OXFAM was synonymous with the state government drive for responsive efforts towards achieving food sufficiency, diversification and improvement of the value chain as well income and livelihood of most predominantly the peasant farmers.
” We have domesticated a deliberate policy that would propel and salvage farmers from the vicious circle of poverty that hindered them in the past.”
According to Shehu” our rolling plan for agriculture remain all encompassing including other areas as fisheries, poultry and livestock to be precise.”
In the same vein, the government official disclosed that already a comprehensive approach to peaceful co-existence between farmers and herders has been mapped out for the establishment of grazing reserves with basic facilities which would confine herders to stable and suitable environmental atmosphere thus improve production.
In her brief remarks, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Budget and Economic Planning, Aisha Abubakar noted that small holder farmers were key in agriculture development and which was why the state government encouraged synergy to strengthen their production capacity in line with the 12 % Malabo declaration on agriculture.
” We are strictly and adequately keeping with the agreement by encouraging all relevant departments and agencies to drive it to success. I commend OXFAM for the collaboration “, She said.