The Chairman of the committee on agriculture at the on-going National Conference, Alhaji Umaru Mohammed Hadejia, representing Jigawa state, in this interview with Hassan Haruna Ginsau discusses the major proposals his committee have put forward which are currently being deliberated upon for adoption on the floor of the conference.
There have been a lot of recommendations put forward by your committee, give us a highlight of the main proposals
Hadejia: The most important of the recommendations is removing the major sector of farming which is extension work from the federal establishment back to the state; it used to be a state process. Apart from that we also emphasised the establishment of marketing boards as they were before, to protect the farmers, especially subsistence farmers.
We also recommend the use of mechanised farming. When we say mechanised farming we don’t mean large scale farming. There are small simplified mechanisms which local farmers can use and improve their’ production.
In addition to that we recommend that there is a process where we say a lot of the land in Nigeria is being wasted through lack of testing of the soil, because every particular soil will be suitable with a particular type of seed, it has to be tested, it has to be checked into, and there are a lot of certain areas or lands in Nigeria where they use this particular kind of fertilizer, and there are certain lands where they don’t need too much fertilizer while others do. And that fertilizer in many cases has a limited period, after a certain period you have to suspend it.
We have recommended all these and many more.
Why did you recommend that state governments should take care of the responsibilities regarding farming?
Hadejia: As we said we should reduce that amount of the federal government revenue and disburse it to the state because of the added responsibility, that’s one. Two; the state governments are the best possible organisations to run management of farming because they are nearer to the people, most of those people who are employed and who are farmers as well are at the state and local government areas, so they can easily be reached and utilised.
There has been a lot of talk about grazing reserves and ranches, what proposal did your committee put forward regarding this?
Hadejia: We recommend that there should be a continuation of grazing reserves, and in a different way. State governments can make reservations for cattle and other animals by carving out large areas in various places where they can install all the facilities; water for the growing of fodder which is the grass the animals feed on, and for the animals themselves to use, for the people around the area and produce within those grazing areas little communities or villages where the cattle herders can stay, there should be a market and every other economic activity, you develop a place, and with time they do not need to move from one place to another, that is one.
Two; we recommend also in the long term, not today, if this is developed there will be no need for it, it will be developed further into ranches where even the cattle herders can use, buy or own the lands and do it by themselves. They can also hire it to other people.
We also recommend that there will be a creation of a dispute solving organisation between the farmers and the cattle herders. It used to be like that when the district heads, village heads and in some cases even the emir; they form a committee and they do not need to go to court. This committee can settle those disputes. We expect this to be created and formalised and be used for that respect.
Among all your recommendations, was there any that was difficult to come to an agreement on?
Hadejia: Fortunately for me, all the members of the committee right from the start became friends, even brothers. It was not even a consensus, it was a unanimous decision. Everybody wanted to input his bits and pieces and his quota with enormous amount of effort. Everybody agreed with everybody 100%.