chairman House Committee on Agriculture and leader of the North-East caucus of the House of Representatives has urged the federal government to take urgent measures to make the much talked about diversification of the economy of Nigeria from oil a reality.
Some of the measures, according to him, include making massive investment in agricultural sector to bring it in tandem with the Maputo declaration that urges all African countries to devote 10% of their annual budget to agriculture. Hon. Monguno said since the inception of the present Buhari administration, “there is tremendous improvement with regard to allocation to agricultural sector” from N80bn last year tot over N100bn this year, but admitted that a lot needs to be done to achieve that objective.
Training and empowerment of youth and women in agriculture is another thing that needs priority attention because majority of people engaged in agriculture are rural women and youth and their training and empowerment are crucial to the economic diversification drive of the present administration.
Paradigm shift of looking at agriculture from business perspective rather than developmental perspective is another imperative to successful diversification drive. This he said will encourage youth to embrace agriculture as a means of livelihood though investment in modern agricultural equipment. “There is need for us to engage in mechanised agriculture in other to encourage our youth because you cannot expect our youth in this technological age to go into agriculture using cutlass, hoe, etc.
Land clearing is a major challenge to agriculture, especially in southern part of Nigeria and it was against this backdrop that the National Assembly recently passed a bill on National Agricultural Land Development Authority which has been assented to by President Buhari for the purpose of clearing land especially in the southern part of the country to give to teeming unemployed youth.
The policy of recapitalisation of the Bank of Agriculture to position it in a way that it can give farmers access to loan at single digit interest rate was equally seen as positive. “There is no way farmers can take agricultural loans from commercial banks at double digit interest rate and break even”, he said.
On North East Development Commission, NEDC Act, Hon. Monguno who is the leader of the North East caucus in the House of Representatives said the level of destruction of the region occasioned by the e Boko Haram insurgency, put the economy of the region in comatose and underscores the need for an entity like NEDC with a legal framework that will embark on massive reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure destroyed in the region.