Oct 3, 2008

Ex-gov faults policy shift

HOANG LONG to follow up Daily Champion - Lagos, Nigeria http://www.champion-newspapers.com/news/article19_021008.htm Citing the Presidential Initiative on Cassava as an example, Adamu said: ``As a farmer in this country, I know that there had been talks about cassava cultivation. ’’.

Former Gov. Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa State has criticised the tendency to abandon policies of previous administrations as a ``national malaise. Adamu, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said: " The problem is that we do not appear to build on our efforts over the years; there is no doubt about that. "The rate of progress, when measured, will not give you the required impression on how much ground we have covered. This is a national malaise at both the local, state and federal levels. ``If you go through the archives, you will see position papers that have been written and researches made overtime. ``On everything we are talking about today, something has been done about it in the past but unfortunately, the follow-up has not been effective,’’ he said.

Citing the Presidential Initiative on Cassava as an example, Adamu said: ``As a farmer in this country, I know that there had been talks about cassava cultivation. ``Somehow at the end of the harvest, there was no post-harvest policy on the ground to ensure that the cassava farmer had a market or a means for processing his products. ``A lot of farmers were left with cassava on their fields; they couldn’t harvest them and they couldn’t make use of the land and that had dampened their spirit to some extent,’’ Adamu said.

According to him, the response to the cotton initiative is ``very poor’’ due to the poor experiences the farmers had with cassava.``We will not relent; we will not say because it hasn’t happened we will stop; we will continue until a time when we can say hallelujah!’’, he said. Adamu also stressed the importance of policy consistency, saying: ``I think there has to be consistency in policy. Once we have a policy and programme on the ground, we must implement them to a logical conclusion and build on past experiences as we go along.’’ On the issue of finance, he expressed regrets that most farmers had no access to credit facilities, adding, however, that banks’ annual accounts ironically indicated that substantial amounts had been channelled to funding the agricultural sector. ``Every year, there is a budget provision that requires financial institutions to use a percentage of their profits before or after tax or turnovers for promoting agriculture. "Every year, when the CBN or whoever goes there to monitor or inspect compliance, every bank comes with a return; but who are these farmers that they are financing; what are the projects that they have financed?``If you ask these questions, you hardly get answers,’’ he said.

Adamu underscored the importance of infrastructural development and government support to agriculture, saying: ``If you are a good farmer, you need roads, electricity and water to enhance your production. "If you have to finance these by yourself, how many farmers can do that ?’’ he asked."I was amazed when I went to the Royal Agricultural Show in London to discover that if a farmer had a land that was just lying fallow, undeveloped, he still get money for keeping the farm.

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