Food Council Plans Agro-rangers, Interest Cut On Agric Credit


The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh said

the Council has also designed measures to reduce interest rate on agricultural credits to a single digit.

Ogbeh spoke alongside the Governors of Plateau and Ebonyi, Simon Lalong and Dave Umahi, who are also members of the Council.  They spoke after the Council’s meeting presided by Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, who is also the Vice Chairman of the council.

“We extensively discussed the price of goods in the market, availability of food, the challenges facing us some are emergencies, and others are rather long term.

“We also discussed the credit in agriculture which is a major challenge.

“The cost of borrowing funds on agriculture has been a bit too high in this country and that has been one of the factors impeding the growth of agriculture in the country and one of the factors stopping young people especially and women participating in agriculture and making it.

“Today, we resolved that we must make Agricultural lending cheap and we are looking at interest rate at the lower end of one digit. We don’t have any figures yet but we are hoping that by the time we meet again we can announce that.

“We also looked at the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen and what steps to take, possibilities of draught, security issues impeding on agriculture growth and the fact that agriculture has to become the mainstay of our economy over and above oil and gas,’’ he said.

Ogbeh revealed that herdsmen had voluntarily declared their readiness to pay appropriate taxes to support the establishment of grazing reserves to the frequent cases of farmers/herdsmen clashes in the country.

He said: “We have to move the cattle to the good old grazing reserves and we just have to create environment for them, clusters of ranches where they have water, grass and security against rustlers.

“For nearly 40 years we didn’t do much about cattle, we also forgot that cattle contribute six percent to GDP.’’

In his contribution, Gov. Simon Lalong said the establishment of agro-rangers which the federal government had bought into remained a sacrosanct policy to end killings occasioned by herdsmen and farmers clashes.

He said: “Part of the recommendation we have made and we are working on, is the issue of Agro-rangers.

“And we noticed that if you are talking about farmers/herdsmen crisis, you have to train a specialized group of security outfit to handle those issues, it is not to concentrate on conventional security.

“So, there is a recommendation before Mr President for the employment and training of Agro-rangers. What we are still appealing to Mr. President is to hasten the process so that it can help solve some of the problems that we have in various states on the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen.’’

Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi also spoke on measures being put in place by the food security council to check high cost of food items in the markets.

The Council chaired by the President Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated March with the broad objectives of developing sustainable solutions to the farmers–herdsmen clashes, as well as climate change, desertification and their impact on farmland.

The Council was also charged to address issues of grazing areas and lakes, rivers and other water bodies; oil spillage and its impact on Niger Delta fishing communities; piracy and banditry; agricultural research institutions and extension services and the problem of smuggling.

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