The Enugu State coordinator of FADAMA, Mr Ikechukwu Ogbuke, has urged farmers in the state to embrace the new federal government’s policy on agriculture christened “the Green Alternative”, and aimed at promoting commercial agriculture.
He said the new policy focuses on tackling two major problems affecting Nigeria’s agriculture comprising the inability to meet domestic food requirements and lack of capacity to export agricultural items at international standards.
The coordinator who made the call recently at a one-day sensitization workshop held in Enugu, listed support to about 300 farmers with assets, irrigation pumps, sprayers, barrows, hoes and machetes, as some FADAMA II interventions in Enugu. He added that FADAMA has increased its payment of 70 percent of the cost to 80 percent and reduced the cost paid by farmers from 30 percent to 20 percent to help farmers.
Mr Ogbuke noted that the workshop seeks to enlighten the people on what FADAMA has done so far and what it is doing in the state, urging journalists to always report stories that positively project agricultural programmes.
In his paper entitled, “Nigeria’s New Agricultural Promotion Policy: Framework for Strategic Media Partnership’’, Mr. Tunde Oladunjoye, national media consultant for World Bank’s FADAMA III Additional Financing Project, said that the federal government launched the “Green Alternatives” on August 15, 2016, to improve agricultural production in the country.
He said that “Green Alternatives” is key to long-term economic growth and security, as well as commercialization of agriculture which include technologies, financial services, input supply chains, and market linkages that directly engage rural poor farmers, pointing out that attention has been on expansion of rice, wheat, maize, soya beans and tomato production for 2016 – 2018.
According to him, the initial focus will be on cocoa, cassava, oil palm, sesame and gum Arabic for export crops, and include bananas, avocado, mango, fish and cashew nuts from 2018.
In a keynote address on the “Role of Journalists in Agricultural Communication Through FADAMA Project,” guest speaker and senior lecturer in mass communication department, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Dr. Chidi Ezinwa, lamented the negative perception people tend to have towards government’s agricultural programmes.
“Agriculture is burdened with negative perceptions, linked in particular to its association with their physical worth, low wage and uncertainty,” he said.
Dr. Ezinwa also highlighted farmers’ lukewarm disposition to modern farming techniques, processes and methods, and lack of interest in agriculture among the youth as major setbacks.
He therefore advised journalists to endeavour to write positive stories on agriculture and to strive to change the youth’s erroneous view of agriculture as an unprofitable profession meant for the old, illiterate, poor, rural dwellers.