Lagos, Jan. 19, 2024: Some agriculture experts have called for the appropriate disbursement of the 1.2 billion dollars loan from Brazil to boost Nigeria’s agriculture modernisation.
The experts made the call in separate interviews on Thursday in Lagos.
The Federal Government recently signed a 1.2 billion dollars Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Development Bank of Brazil for agriculture modernisation in Nigeria.
The loan is intended to improve agriculture mechanisation and set up modern agro-centers across the country with the credit facility.
Mr Akin Alabi, an agriculture consultant, called on the government to ensure the appropriate disbursement of funds to get the intended results in the sector.
He said that the funding had always been the issue for agriculture since the days of Adam.
“More funds are always required to boost agriculture productivity either from local or foreign developmental partners.
“With the 1.2 billion dollars loan from Brazil to boost agriculture modernisation in Nigeria, the question is will this fund be administered adequately?
“Will the funds get to the real grassroots smallholder farmers? Either commercial or large-scale farmers? What will be the disbursement model of this fund? Will it be given to the farmers as loans or grants?
“These are the questions we need to ask so that we do not have ‘portfolio’ or ‘political’ farmers take the funds and it does not reflect across all value chains in the agriculture sector.
“The funds can be used to enhance agro-production, processing, extension services, irrigation farming, greenhouses, value chains addition and reduction of post-harvest losses.
“These are areas the funds can be adequately utilised to give us the desired modernisation in the Nigerian agriculture sector,” he said.
On his part, Dr Fadlullah Issa, a fellow at the National Agriculture Extension Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), said it was pertinent that the nation moved from subsistence farming to modernised farming.
“Current research still indicates that a substantial percentage of Nigerian farmers (80 to 90 per cent) are still cutlass and hoe farmers.
“Yet, we are making claims that we have tractors available to local farmers, but go to the rural areas, these farmer will tell you they never seen a tractor.
“To take Nigerian agriculture to the next level, the use of machinery is the key thing.
“The application of appropriate recommended practices, in terms of agrochemicals, a soil test, among others is necessary for modernisation.
“The population is growing and food security is threatened, so the best way to utilise this loan is to disburse it appropriately to the right channels.’’
He also reiterated importance of the funds reaching the real farmers it was intended for and not otherwise.
“These funds should not be disbursed to ‘political’ farmers; a major part of the Anchor’s Borrowers Scheme funds went to unintended beneficiaries; that is why the noise of not recovering the funds was rampant.
“To disburse the funds, there should be a policy plan; also we must strengthen our extension services to promote modernisation of the sector.
“If we want to modernise the agriculture sector and education is out of the equation, then what are we modernising? We must train more extension agents to propel this modernisation quest.
“We also cannot modernise agriculture without giving out improved seeds, without soil tests and appropriate inputs to the farmers.
“We cannot modernise agriculture when the funds do not get to the actual farmers,” he said.