Election 2019: WANEP urges politicians to mainstream, promote agriculture

Election 2019: WANEP urges politicians to mainstream, promote agriculture

- WANEP has sent a key message to political stakeholders ahead of the 2019 general elections

- The group urged relevant stakeholders in the socio-economic and political sphere of the country to mainstream the agricultural sector in their policies

- They said the move will address emerging security challenges and agitations for sustainable development

The West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) has urged relevant stakeholders in the socio-economic and political sphere of the country to mainstream agricultural sector as a means of addressing the emerging security challenges and agitations for sustainable development.

WANEP made the recommendation ahead of the 2019 general elections in a report made available on Wednesday, February 20 by the programme manager, conflict prevention/early warning of the organisation, Ms. Osariemen Amas-Edobor.

The report is the outcome of the sensitisation workshop on farmers manifesto conducted between 29-31, January 2019, in Bauchi state with the support of OXFAM.

Legit.ng gathered that a total of 312 participants: 117 female and 173 male (including 17 political party aspirants) were represented at both the sensitization workshop on the farmers manifesto to Small Scale Farmers (SSFs) and engagement with political parties in Bauchi state.

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Edobor noted that it has been recognized that enhanced agricultural performance in the country is key to growth and poverty reduction through its direct impact on increasing job opportunities, especially for women and youth; food security and improved nutrition.

According to her, SSFs in Nigeria make up the greater number of the country’s workforce population and produce over 80 percent of the food consumed in the country.

She stated: “The Nigerian agricultural sector is second largest contributor (about 24%) to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Nonetheless, these farmers appear to be the poorest constituency in Nigeria.

“As shown by statistics, smallholder farmers constitute over 75% of the electorates, thus making the constituency the largest voting population in Nigeria, so therefore it becomes imperative for the specific needs of smallholder farmers to be of priority to policy makers.

“It is in recognition of the challenges faced by SSFs in Nigeria that Small Holder Farmers Groups (SHFGs) now rises to organize and link up with relevant national platforms with a view to enhancing their voice and increasing their capacity to influence policies in and out of the agricultural sector resulting to the development of a manifesto.”

Edobor explained that farmers’ manifesto is a documentation of the specific needs of Nigerian farmers as a basis for a bargain between farmers and political office seekers, prior and after elections.

In view of this, she said, WANEP-Nigeria with support from OXFAM conducted several activities in Bauchi state including; advocacy/courtesy visits to traditional rulers, federal/state ministry of agriculture and the private sector; sensitization workshop with SSF and political party aspirants in the state.

With the aim to finding lasting solution to the challenges affecting the smooth operation of the local farmers, she said the non-governmental organisation has expressed its readiness to boost production capacity of Small Scale Farmers in Bauchi state for food security in the country.

The early warning expert stressed the need for government at all levels and other stakeholders to provide local farmers with credit loan, fertilizer and improvement of agricultural extension services.

She revealed that statistics have showed that over seventy five percent of food consumed by the people were produced by the local farmers hence the need to help them operate effectively and boost production.

To this end, she assured that WANEP will collaborate with relevant stakeholders for improvement of budget allocated to agricultural sector.

At the end of the sensitisation workshop, the stakeholders made key recommendations including: Steady increase in budgetary allocation to agriculture in Bauchi state (2014 was 4.29%; 2017 was 7.1% and 2019 is 8.4%); sustained registration of farmers under the national farmer scheme (800,000 farmers; development of fishery laws to enhance production in Bauchi state; and insurance policy for SSF: Insurance for SSF is relevant to help reduce farmers’ risk in terms of climate conditions and its effect on food production/harvest.

Some of the key outcomes of include the 16 political party aspirants (governorship, house of assembly and representatives) across five political parties in the state that signed the farmers manifesto. This commitment further stimulates positive engagement around food security and capacity development for small-scale farmers (SSF) in the state.

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Meanwhile, two international election observers, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI), have thrown their weight behind the Independent National Electroral Commission (INEC)’s postponement of the 2019 general elections.

The observers in a joint statement sent to journalists on Monday, February 18 by Tony Awesu, head of media of NDI, said INEC's decision will ensure credible polls.

According to Awesu, NDI/IRI fully endorsed the postponement of the 2019 elections in Nigeria and will continue to support Nigeria’s democratic development.

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