By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – THE Senate, yesterday declared that when passed into law, the Bill on Agriculture, Industry and Modernisation currently before the Senate would transform Nigeria.
According to the Senate, the bill when passed into law, will give the required legal framework for mechanized farming in the country, particularly in the area of land to be used for that purpose by interested Nigerians .
Speaking yesterday in Abuja shortly after he received a Merit Award from the Agricultural Extension Society of Nigeria (AESON) during their 24th annual conference, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi ( APC Niger North), said : ” A number of young boys today are not ready to do the kind of agriculture their parents or grandparents did, that is, using hoe and cutlass.
“They want a modern agriculture that is using all the necessary modern agricultural tools. And that is not possible without the necessary laws. Based on the research I conducted, knowing what happened in countries like Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Srilanca, Thailand and so many other South East Asian countries, I am convinced that if this bill come to play, definitely it will contribute in moving the agricultural sector forward interns of modernization”
Sabi Abdullahi who incidentally was the sponsor of the bill waiting for second reading, said that the Agriculture, Industry and Modernization Bill seeks to place agriculture as the fulcrum of industrialization through modernizing the way Agriculture is practiced in the country, adding, “What this means is that within the context of the bill, there will be policy formulation. We want to bring the national Council on Agriculture and make it a much more practical form where all contributors in the agricultural industry will come and discuss on the relevant policies as it affect agriculture.
“Currently, it is just an administrative routine where they go to conferences and by the time the council is gone, in many instances, you don’t achieve much. But here we have expanded the council to bring in both the private sector, farmers and various interest groups so that they will contribute to policy making.”
Senator Abdullahi who noted that if farmers were able to come to terms with what standards are, when it comes to exporting their product, they will be getting the right price rather than getting discounted price or prices, said, “The other critical aspect of the bill is the area of mechanization. Mechanization is in the heart of industrialization. Its about industrializing and modernizing our agriculture.
“But right now, the agricultural engineers are either abandoned or forgotten. And this bill seeks to rehabilitate that profession and bring it to to a very veritable tool for agricultural development so that at the end, whatever it is that you are mechanizing, which means you will be dealing with a lot of machines. Wherever they are situated you must have the capacity for people to be able to provide services and technical assistance.
“Right now it is weak because the profession has not been able to be given the right place so that bill also seek to achieved.
“The order aspect we suffer from is the issue of agricultural land. Yes, land belongs to the state but in this bill, what we are trying to achieve is to force the state who want to participate in federal government sponsored agricultural programme, to guarantee that their farmers will have titles to their land. So, that way, there is certainty. If a farmer said he is going to use 10 hectares you can locate the 10 hectares through the dashboard and you will know that in that 10 hectares, rice is going to be grown this year, next year, maybe it is going to be groundnut.”
“This will enable us to plan properly and address the needs of farmers. So, for me this and many other aspects of the bill are important because until we bring in a bill that will promote the modernization of agriculture, we can’t go anywhere as a Nation “, he explained.
When reminded that the 8th Senate currently handling the bill will soon wind up, he said if he couldn’t get the bill through at the current 8th Senate and by extension, 8th National Assembly , it will be represented to the 9th Assembly, adding, “Definitely, if I am not able to get it through in this Senate, the good thing is that I am back in the 9th Senate and it will be the very first bill I will like to introduce because I will like to see that the bill gets the necessary attention.”