The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has blamed policy somersaults by the Federal Government for the under-development in the agricultural sector.
NANTS is the umbrella body of traders in raw materials, industrial and finished goods (locally made and imported) as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
Mr. Ken Ukaoha, the President of NANTS, in a chat with journalists’ in Abuja, observed that one of the policies of the immediate past administration, which was Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) had been abandoned by the present administration, despite being a well-thought out initiative for farmers to receive fertiliser and other farm input.
He said: “The negative impact of policy somersaults on Nigeria’s agriculture; for instance, the GESS appears to have been abandoned owing to perceived irregularities such as inputs not delivered on time, poor accessibility or far location of input collection centres, which increases transportation burden on farmers.
“At present, another programme tagged ‘Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises (AEHEs) seems to have replaced the GESS. However, the concept and model of the GESS should be continued so that resources placed in farmers’ registration and other efforts around the GESS will not go down the drain.
“We hereby strongly invited to institutionalise the GESS or AEHEs and other agriculture-related initiatives that have been identified as successful, with a view to ensuring that they are backed up by law to encourage continuity and not easily discarded at the whims and caprices of political leaderships.”
Ukaoha also decried the inability of the Federal Government to conduct National Agricultural Sample Census (NASC) in the last 10 years.
He explained that census was supposed to be conducted every 10 years in compliance with Food and Agriculture Organisation’s recommendations, adding that it is usually carried out in collaboration with the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS), States Ministries of Agriculture, development partners and other stakeholders.