Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to speedily pass into law the Seed, Fertiliser and the Warehouse Receipt System Bills to reposition the sector.
They made the call in Abuja on Tuesday at the Agriculture Sector Stakeholders Public-Private Dialogue, organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).
Mr Laoye Jaiyeola, the Chief Executive Officer, NESG said that the Seed Bill and Fertiliser Bill had both been passed by the Senate and House of Assembly and awaits presidential assent.
He said that the Warehouse Receipt System Bill had been passed in the Senate awaiting third reading in the House of Representatives, adding that speedy passage would create an enabling environment for agribusiness to thrive.
According to him, agriculture has a lot of responsibilities as the backbone of the economy and agribusiness simply means the collective business performed from farm to fork.
“Nigeria currently has an estimated population of 201 million, growing at an annual rate of 2.8 per cent.
“In spite of the fact that agriculture is responsible for the employment of roughly 70 per cent of our population, there is still a wide gap in the agricultural value chain in Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s agricultural production remains largely subsistent and reliant on the usage of fertiliser, a component which has not been applied in the desired quality and quantity.
“Another component is the seed. Seed usage has been characterised by low adoption of varieties, lack of certification systems.
“The implications of these poor inputs include low productivity, loss of yield, low nutrition, failing health, soil, environmental damage,’’ he said.
He said that the gap had a direct impact on the current food supply system, food insecurity and availability of raw material for agro-based industries in the country.
“To close the fertiliser usage gap, lack of access to seed
varieties and unavailability of warehouse facilities; Nigeria will require an average annual investment of N4.6 trillion over a period of three years.
“The passage of the three agribusiness bills to drive this agenda is not only timely but a rational strategic alternative to boost food production in the country,’’ he said.
Ms Feyi Ajayi, Think tank Operation, NESG, said that if these three bills were not passed before the eight assembly ends, by the time the ninth assembly stands all their effort and advocacy would be in vain.
“We are here to engage stakeholders to buy into the passage of the agriculture bills that NESG is working with AGRA and others stakeholders to be enact.
“The Fertiliser Quality Control Bill, the Independent Warehouse Bill and the Seed Council Bill.
“These three bills we believed are very important and critical to the creation of an agricultural ecosystem to ensure that the country is secured in term of food and impact on lives of our smallholders’ farmers.
“Million of smallholders today just see their produce waste. We have farmers till the soil morning, till night but get nothing simply because the inputs they given are bad.
“ In places where they get inputs lack of storage facility allows a lot of waste in farm gates and this has a negative impact on the livelihood of millions of smallholders’ farmers in Nigeria.
“Our reasonability at the NESG working with AGRA and other critical stakeholders is to ensure that these three bills receive the attention required to ensure they are enacted and passed before the life span of the eight national assembly ends,’’ she said.
She said the stakeholders would mount pressure to ensure that the bill were passed in order for farmers to get value for was they invested into farming.
“If we do not pass these bills before the eight assembly ends, by the time the ninth assembly starts, we are going to start from point zero. Nobody wants this kind of efforts to go to waste that is our next step.’’
Mrs Mary Ishaya, the National President, Small Scale Women Farmers Association (SWOFON) said that there was need for speedy passage of the bills to assist farmers control losses they experienced daily.
She, however, called on the Federal Government to always involve smallholders farmers in terms of policy formulation for the policy to reflect their suffering and avail them with agricultural best practices.