Bill to Establish Agric Development Fund Passes 2nd Reading in Senate

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A Bill for the establishment of the National Agricultural Development Fund has passed second reading in the Senate.

This followed the presentation of the lead debate on the general principles of the bill by the sponsor Sen. Abdullahi Adamu during Wednesday’s plenary.

Leading the debate, Adamu who is Chairman Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the bill was read the first time on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

He said that the bill sought to establish the National Agricultural Development Fund for the purposes of providing sustainable funding for agricultural development in Nigeria taking into consideration the critical need to address food production.

The lawmaker said that the objectives of the fund included the improved institutional capacity for agricultural productivity, income, employment, accessibility to quality inputs and outputs through research, innovation, technology upgrading and extension

Other objectives of the fund according to Adamu is to develop human and natural resources for sustainable production and value addition.

“The fund is to provide finance to support the strategic aspect of agricultural development in Nigeria.

“This entails financing agricultural research, training, technology, innovation, extension and fixing critical value chains required for the fund would support the evolution of strategic industries in Nigeria,” he said.

Adamu noted that agriculture occupied a very important priority in the programme of the Buhari administration, saying that it played a pivotal role in the government’s quest to diversify the economy, alleviate poverty, create jobs and ensure food security.

He said that these were evident through the different intervention programmes and policies that had been put in place and backed by enabling laws.

“The current contribution of the agricultural sector to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stands at 15 per cent to 20 per cent with the potential for improvement through the implementation and sustenance of appropriate intervention programmes, policies and enabling laws.

“In spite of the policies and enabling Laws, the utilisation of arable land in the country is only 40 per cent and agriculture remains largely subsistence with minimal value addition.

“It will be difficult to achieve agricultural productivity and value addition required for industrial development without sustainable funding.

“The fact is that the current budgetary system will continue to be improved but it will be insufficient to generate the necessary transformation in the agricultural sector,” he said.

Supporting the bill, Sen. Sandy Onoh (PDP- Cross River) said that the problem of agriculture was because it was predicated on subsistence agriculture which did not bring profit to the farmers.

“Subsistence agriculture exists in Nigeria because there is no funding for farmers. So, there is a need for the development of the fund to help move agriculture to a commercial level,” he said.

Also, Sen. Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi) said that the establishment of the fund would be of immense support to farmers in agricultural production.

He said that it would also help accelerate agricultural development which would help to generate employment and fight poverty in the country.

In his remarks, President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan said that the establishment of the fund would help provide fund for agricultural production and create jobs for Nigerians and ensure food security in the country.

He, thereafter, referred the bill to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development for further legislative action.

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