As the country gears up for diversification of its economy through agriculture, an agric economist, Dr. Thaddaeus Thompson, has urged the Federal Government to directly communicate policies with farmers.
This assertion was made in the light of ignorance about government policies on agriculture by most farmers, who have no idea of the direction of policies that concerns them.
Thompson said the government should come low to the level at which farmers in the various value chain could understand and key into what the policies intend to achieve on food sufficiency and security.
He said: “However, to arrive at lasting solutions, the problems must be researched, identified, resolved, and evaluated. With this fact, the role of producers and farmers in Africa, particularly Nigeria must be paramount and placed at the beginning of discussions involving the path to a lasting solution in food-sufficiency.
“Why are producers and farmers ignored in the process of identifying the problems they face? Rather than communicating with local farmers, the communication about the farmer’s plight is discussed in conference rooms in America and Europe.
“First, the geographic conditions in Miami are different from that of Maiduguri. How do you expect the Miami-based farmer to better understand the conditions facing the Maiduguri farmer? The point here is not to undermine the resourceful insights from beyond the borders of Nigeria; it is to emphasise the importance of involving the voice of locals that are vested with producing food for the nation.”
He also decried the poor maintenance culture of government assets in the past, particularly farm machines, therefore charged government and farmers to be conscious in managing farm machines for optimal food production.
“Tractors were shipped in mass to underdeveloped countries in the 70s, paid by taxpayer home and abroad. Most of them ran the farms for just a few months until they had exhausted their lubricants, gasoline, and parts, and were abandoned. In the advance countries farmers are able to maintain a tractor for three-four generations.
“Millions of dollars in investments laid waste on the farms. One of the major problems common with most developing countries such as Nigeria is the inability to maintain and service tangible assets, and government and farmers should ensure that these farm machines are properly managed and maintained to achieve optimal production of food”, he stated.