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Reps approve bill to establish agric trust fund

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The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to establish an Agricultural Development Trust Fund to empower farmers in Nigeria.

Sponsor of the bill, Ademorin Kuye, said the Fund is to give grants to agricultural units directly, with emphasis on financing farm units; and to procure equipment for onward transmission to agricultural units in a subsidy arrangement.

Kuye also said the Fund is to be financed with one per cent “surcharge on all revenue of the Federal Government revenue generation agencies such as the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, etc.”

“Item 3 above will conveniently generate at least N300bn annually,” the lawmaker stated.

The sponsor added that the Fund would also finance crop research, agricultural extension and training services.

The legislation is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Provide for Establishment and Composition of Agricultural Development Trust Fund (ADETFUND); and for Related Matters.’

Leading the debate on the bill, Kuye said, “The Fund will directly develop agriculture and procure equipment for land clearing, land development, earthmoving, drainage development, water drilling rigs, local and farm road building, specialised and non-specialised input and produce transport, specialised and non-specialised storage facilities, human transport, quarrying, cement batching, cement form plant, building construction, farm tractors and implements, combine harvesters, other harvesters, planting and fertiliser, drilling irrigation systems, wood chipping and grinding, chemicals and insecticides spraying, ATVs, workshops, electric generators, solar panel and electric systems, wind turbines, etc.

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“The Fund will organise farmers in the country into four types of cooperatives, namely farmers multipurpose (crop, livestock, etc.) processing, storage and produce marketing cooperatives for direct benefit of the subsidy.

“When approved the bill will help us track effectively government spending in agriculture and provide measurable indices for growth and improvement.”

The lawmaker added, “It will also, amongst others, provide effective funding of Agriculture and its value chain with a robust subsidy system; provide cumulative and consistent funding of agriculture every year as funds will be available so that development will be continuous and cumulative; reduce cost of equipment by huge single orders from equipment brokers and manufacturers; reduce cost of development of large scale farm units (ranches inclusive);

“Improve the funding for crop research, agricultural extension and training services; ensure cultivation and development of millions of hectares of land for farming and ranching; create millions of stable and secure direct jobs on farms and ranches; create millions of indirect jobs in the development of support facilities for farm settlements and ranches.”

While saying that the Fund would help in poverty alleviation, Kuye added that it would increase food production and food security.

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He said, “With agricultural production in full throttle across the country, millions of farmers and farm support staff will gladly join the government’s tax coverage, thereby increasing the government’s revenue through tax collection. Tax can be the top earner for the government in no distant time considering the agitation for less fossil fuel usage across the world that can potentially affect the government’s oil sales significantly in the nearest future.

“The establishment of the Agriculture Development Trust Fund will go a long way in coordinating, articulating and actualising the Federal Government efforts at boosting local food production at affordable prices, incentivising farmers and players in the agric and agro-allied value chain and diversifying the economy.

“It is, therefore, imperative that there should be a focal development fund in the country for the agricultural sector and its value chain to coordinate efforts of agencies like the CBN, NIRSAL, MFBs, etc, and provide sector-specific interventions to maximise benefits like employment, economic empowerment and diversification that should accrue to Nigeria and Nigerians.”

The bill was supported by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu; Majority Whip, Mohammed Monguno, among others.

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