By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko
Ibadan, Feb. 9, 2021 Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria plans to employ about 40 per cent of youths in the southwest this year through expansion of farmlands.
The Southwest President of the association, Mr Bamidele Ajani, made the declaration in Ibadan on Tuesday when he spoke with newsmen
He said that members also planned to increase tomato production by 100 per cent with government’s assistance.
Ajani said that the association had applied for funds at the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme to achieve increased production of tomatoes.
He charged the CBN to disburse loans to anchor borrower farmers early enough before the planting season ended.
“Virement of funds meant for agriculture to other projects should be totally avoided.
“Government should fund real farmers; that’s the registered farmers, I mean those at the grassroots.
“Government should provide agriculture implements and equipment, especially tractors, directly to real farmers at subsidised and affordable prices.
“For food security to be attained, government needs to subsidise agriculture.
“We discovered that whatever Federal Government is giving to farmers doesn’t reach the farmers at the grassroots.
“Therefore, we are encouraging the Federal Government to please disburse whatever materials it has for the farmers through farmers’ registered cooperative groups,’’ he said.
Ajani said the association would embark on capacity building for farmers by improving their their literacy level to enable them to embrace good agricultural practice and the use of modern farming techniques.
He called for government’s assistance in the provision of irrigation facilities especially at Ikere Dam in the state to enable farmers to realise their set goals.
Ajani stressed that tomato production was low in the southwest in 2020 because of shortage of rainfall.
He also for transparency on the part of government and its agencies on agriculture-related matters and said proactive moves and diligence would grow the national economy through agriculture.
Ajani urged farmers at the grassroots to join registered cooperative groups to benefit from Federal Government’s programmes and policies.
He advised farmers to use materials given to them judiciously to encourage government to do more.