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Agric production threatened by floods, farmers-herders’ crisis — FG (PUNCH)

The Federal Government has said that recurring conflicts between farmers and herdsmen in some parts of the country, as well as the incidence of flooding, have affected agricultural production in the country.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udo Udoma, during a public presentation of the 2019 budget proposal,  noted that this was why the sector recorded only 1.19 per cent and 1.91 per cent growth respectively,  in the second and third quarters of 2018, against three per cent growth in the first quarter.

There had been a flash flood in the nation between June and October of last year, which affected farmlands and livestock in Abia, Kebbi, Cross River and Jigawa states.

Our correspondent learnt that the clashes and flooding also took a toll on the production of exportable crops such as tobacco,  cassava, oilseed, fruits, nuts and others which were relied on to earn foreign exchange by the government.

“We can do a lot more exportation from the agricultural sector. However, the herdsmen and farmers’ clashes in the North Central region of Nigeria have caused the output in this sector to decline,” the Chairman, Export Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Bamidele Ayemibo, remarked during an LCCI export symposium.

On his part, the Director-General, LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, blamed the situation on the fact that Nigeria had yet to embrace mechanised farming, which he said could take care of all the challenges and aid agricultural production on a commercial scale.

Speaking in an interview with our correspondent on Friday, Yusuf stated, “Agriculture in Nigeria is still basically traditional. We need to move our agriculture to technologically-driven methods and practices.

“This is the reason why there is very low crop yield per hectare in Nigeria, compared to advanced nations and even some African nations.

“The government needs to formulate a policy that makes land available to people who need large portions of land for commercial agriculture, a policy that supports subsidy for agricultural equipment, agricultural chemicals and seeds. These things are very expensive for small farmers who form the bulk of the farming population. “

Yusuf also observed that funding for agriculture was still a major issue as the banks of agriculture in the country were not effective.  He added that there was a need to strengthen the management and the entire structure of the banks to make them more functional.