Oshiomhole
Oshiomhole

Former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has described as unfortunate and disappointing, the recent statement by Edo State Governor, Adams Oshimhole that the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA, of former president Goodluck Jonathan was a scam and worst ever in the history of the country.
Dr Adesina explained that it was unbecoming of Oshimhole to tag Jonathan’s ATA as a dismal failure, adding that the ATA was a real success story and not a sham as claimed by the Edo State governor and described his comment as false and baseless.
Dr Adesina, billed to assume office next month as president of the African Development Bank, ADB, through a press statement made available to our correspondent and signed by his Media Assistant, Dr. Olukayode Oyeleye, explained that it was most uncharitable for the governor who was in a better position to know the success of the ATA to attempt to discredit it for reasons best known to him.
According to him, “for reasons of safeguarding the economy and strengthening the confidence of the international community in Nigeria, genuine efforts towards ensuring food security and diversifying the economy away from oil should not be subjected to cheap politics as the negative impact that follows such public comments could be to the nation’s detriment.”
He said Governor Oshiomole ought to know better that under ATA, efficient distribution of subsidised farm inputs, also known as the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme, GESS, reached 14.3million farmers with 1.3million MT of fertiliser, 102,703 metric tons of improved rice seeds, 67,991 metric tons of improved maize seeds, 6,171 metric tons of improved cotton seeds, 130 million stems of cassava, 45.5million seedlings of cocoa, nine million seedlings of oil palm amongst many other crops between 2012 and 2014.
“Those inputs helped produce an additional 21million MT of food that has acted as a buffer against inflation with the devaluation of the Naira.
“At a time that the nation desperately needs to build upon the achievements of the immediate past minister of agriculture, Governor Oshiomole can only do the Edo people some good by recognising the fact that lending by commercial banks to agriculture increased from 0.07 per cent in 2011 to five per cent in 2014 while banks lent a total of N27.5 billion to fertiliser and seed companies.”
The former minister said, “As the chief executive of a state so blessed with natural resources so highly favourable to productive agriculture, Governor Oshiomhole ought to think rather on how to make Edo more enterprising. In doing so, an area he is expected to be more interested in, should be agriculture.
“For that reason, Governor Oshiomhole ought rather to be keen on how the intervention that brought agriculture from policy oblivion to a sector that is now widely embraced could be replicated in Edo State within the remaining number of months he has to spend as a governor.
“He ought to have been asking, for instance, the erudite, resourceful and hardworking former minister, how he was able to achieve so much within so short a time.
“If Governor Oshiomhole knows how to play the politics well, he should be thinking of how to leverage on the former minister’s growing relevance at the continental level as the new head of the biggest development financial institution in Africa.
“He is supposed to be expressing interest in the increased investment in the fertiliser sector totaling $5billion from major companies such as Indorama, Dangote, and Notore.”
Dr Adesina said “He should have been asking his special assistants to study how usage also rose from 13kg per hectare in 2011 to 80kg in 2014, or how seed companies in Nigeria grew from 11, producing 14,000 metric tons of improved seeds, to 134 companies doing 174,000 metric tons of seeds.
“The governor should be asking how Nigeria became the world leader in the use of ICT to reach farmers directly with farm inputs and how the World Bank is trying to scale out this efficient system of ensuring high productivity of small holder farmers across Africa.
“It is grossly unfair for Governor Oshiomhole not to recognise that ATA of 2011 to 2014 was Nigeria’s equivalent of the ‘green revolution’ that took place in Asia in the 1960s and 1970s, where new highly productive varieties of rice and wheat, and the chemical fertilisers that helped them achieve their potential, led to a doubling and tripling of yield and self-sufficiency.
“Particularly troubling is the fact that a political leader of a state as enlightened as Edo could feign ignorance at the fact that the number of integrated rice mills, needed to produce parboiled rice, preferred by Nigerians, has grown from just one in 2010 to 24 in 2014.
“Equally worrisome is the fact that he is unaware that our parboiled rice milling capacity increased from 70,000 metric tons to 800,000 metric tons. His former colleague in Lagos, at some point, had bought as many as 56 trailer loads of paddy rice from Kebbi (a major massive producer of rice under ATA) for processing into ‘ Eko Rice ‘ brand in Lagos. It means Governor Oshiomhole’s criticism is fraught with irregularities.
“Realising that the demand for import quality-grade parboiled rice was estimated at 2.5million Metric tons, MT in Nigeria, the gap in milling capacity prompted the Federal Executive Council to approve a N9billion fund to support private sector companies to acquire nine new 36,000 metic tons per annum factories to further raise the capacity to 1.2million MT, leaving a national supply gap of 1.3million MT that was to be met by controlled imports under the new rice policy.
“The new Rice Policy, aimed at reducing the amount of rice imported and encourage new domestic rice investments in the nation, led to new investments in rice production and milling of over N500billion, including N200billion by Aliko Dangote, of which a 200,000MT per annum mill and 10,000 hectares will be located in Edo State. Is Governor Oshiomhole aware of this?
The former minister also lambasted Oshimhole for claiming that the past government frittered away over N800billion on waivers for rice millers and others, killing local rice production and making agriculture unattractive.
He made it clear that contrary to the governor’s claim, the total amount owed the government by rice importers, who imported beyond their approved limit, was estimated at N30billion, an information that was conspicuously displayed on the website of the Nigerian customs.
“It has to be emphasised here again that it was the immediate past minister, Dr Adesina that took up the fight against the erring importers, asking them to pay what they owed the government.
“The truth is that under ATA, Nigeria has made giant strides towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice. Between 2011 and 2014, a total of six million rice farmers were reached with improved rice seeds and fertiliser and an additional two million hectares cultivated.
“National paddy rice production rose by an additional 7 million MT and the nation reached 85 per cent sufficiency in rice production.
“Furthermore, for the first time in Nigeria, rice cultivation is twice a year, in the wet and dry seasons. We have also seen the rise of thousands of small mills fitted with de-stoners and polishers producing parboiled rice of similar quality as imported rice. With the new investment in large scale rice mills, imported rice will soon become a thing of the past.
“The governor may wish to ask the leader of the cocoa value chain, an illustrious son of Edo State, who served under the immediate past minister of agriculture in revolutionising cocoa production, Edo was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the efforts to increase cocoa production base through the free distribution of cocoa pods for raising seedlings in many farms in the cocoa-producing states.


Ad:See How you can turn $500 into $10,000 Click HERE For Details.
SHARE