The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has asked the Federal Government to compensate farmers for losses incurred during the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) currency devaluation and cash crisis.
The farmers made the request in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos, while discussing the policy’s impact on food production and agribusiness.
They said that the payout was required to entice farmers to return to their farms.
According to the farmers, compensation might take the form of subsidies, inputs, fertilizer, and farm implements.
They stated that it will allow them to reach the 2023 food production target.
Dr Femi Oke, Chairman of AFAN’s Lagos and South-West Zone, stated that the policy’s implementation affected many of their members, causing farming activities to be disrupted.
According to Oke, the Federal Government’s cashless policy and naira redesign strategy in February had a significant impact on farmers.
“Based on what we have seen and heard thus far, the loss recorded during the period is massive and on the high side, particularly for our members involved in livestock, poultry, piggery, and processors.”
“If we are to quantify these losses, we have lost billions of naira during this period.”
“The poultry farmers were the most affected; it was similar to the COVID-19 period that we experienced in 2020.” We hope that the COVID-19 will never be repeated because it was a tragic loss.
“We also discovered that many farmers were unable to pay their laborers, which became a major issue.”
“Because the majority of the farms are located in rural areas with little or no commercial bank presence, they had to travel long distances and spend more money in order to buy naira from Point of Sale operators to pay the farm workers,” he explained.
Oke described it as a major issue because many farm workers rely on daily payments because they do not have bank accounts.
“Many farmers were also unable to transport farm produce such as peppers, vegetables, and other perishable items to market due to a lack of cash and customer patronage.”
“The situation resulted in the loss of farm produce right in front of the farmers’ eyes.” It was a depressing sight to behold.
“There’s nothing more agonizing, disheartening, or painful than watching your farm produce and hard work go to waste with no solution,” he said.
Oke requested the federal government to compensate for all damages incurred as a result of the ill-advised strategy.
“We want the federal government to act by providing us with grants with interest rates as low as 5%.”
“Giving us a grant is one way to solve these mirage of problems affecting food production right now,” he continued.
Oke encouraged the CBN to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and AFAN on policy development and farmer information distribution.
“We have repeatedly stated that the CBN should not deal with or dictate to farmers directly.”
“On issues affecting farmers, the CBN should collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the farmers’ umbrella organization, AFAN.”
“CBN should stop dealing with them directly to avoid misinformation and misrepresentation,” he said.
Oke, on the other hand, urged farmers not to be discouraged by recent economic events, but to return to the farms and support government measures aimed at increasing food production and self-sufficiency.
“You can be confident that the new government will do a lot for farmers,” he added.
Mrs Adewunmi Malik-Adeola, a livestock and crop farmer, also spoke, urging the Federal Government and the CBN to include farmers in the future to avoid avoidable losses caused by the implementation of the naira redesign strategy.
Malik-Adeola observed a lack of policy information in rural areas, where the bulk of farmers live.
She bemoaned the lack of knowledge about the policy’s modalities, take-off, and implementation.
She went on to say that concerned stakeholders should be informed on government policies in order to avoid loss of investment, which could lead to illness or even death.
“We are stakeholders, and we must be included whenever a new policy is introduced.”
“One of the reasons the program failed was a lack of information about how farmers and the general public could prepare ahead of time.”
“It ruined a lot of our farming activities during that time, especially our livestock, birds, and eggs.”
“Everyone was taken aback because this is something that this country has never seen before.”
“Now that the damage has been done, the government must consider how to compensate us for all of our losses.”
“The government should release funds to help us meet demand; we require financial assistance, inputs, and grants,” she said.
Mrs. Abimbola Francis-Fagoyinbo, Secretary of AFAN in Lagos, described the policy’s impact on her business as “devastating.”
According to Francis-Fagoyinbo, a cassava processor and packing farmer, a majority of her produce was lost owing to poor sales.
She encouraged the government to develop programs to mitigate the damage in the sector.
“Right now, as I speak, some of our farmers on the farm are calling me because there is no one to buy the garri they have processed, and the ones they have lost cannot recover the money.”
“There is no sale or transportation; the Federal Government’s cashless policy really affected farmers.”
“Whether you like it or not, as a cassava farmer, you must harvest your cassava when the time comes; you cannot leave it any longer than necessary or you will lose it.”
“We’re looking at our market on the ground, and we’re not selling them, and they’re going bad because we can’t keep garri for very long,” she bemoaned.
According to Francis-Fagoyinbo, the price of garri has risen due to the naira redesign program.
“Smallholder farmers rely on the profit they make from their produce to survive and thrive.”
“We also paid a lot of money to manual workers on our farms; we had to buy money in order to pay them cash because they don’t accept monetary transfers.”
“At the end of the day, everything was a waste; we couldn’t sell what we paid double for.”
“Right now, the price of garri is rising and not falling because they have suffered significant losses in the past.”
“We were buying money to run our farms, so it had an impact on us.”
“Right now, the Federal Government should devise a program that will at the very least assist farmers.”
“The government should provide us with inputs such as chemicals, fertilizers, and tools,” she stated.
Mrs. Latifat Ajani, a fisheries and agricultural farmer, believes the policy and its implementation should be thoroughly researched before being reintroduced.
“The naira redesign policy had a significant impact on my business; it was a very serious issue for my family and I.”
“There was no business or market during that time, and I lost some of my fish as a result because fish cannot survive for long.”
“I was able to survive with the assistance of my children; there was no sale, and my money was trapped with customers and banks.”
“It was a bad experience for me because I couldn’t buy feed to feed the fish, the transfer wasn’t working, and everything was a disaster.” As a result, I lost a large portion of my money in the process.
“Government needs to support and compensate us for all of our losses,” she said. (NAN)
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