The Anambra chapter of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has called for early distribution of seeds and seedlings to farmers in the South-East geo-political zone of the country.
Mr Nnamdi Mekoh, the AFAN Chairman in Anambra, made the call in an interview with News men in Awka.
He noted that the delay by the National Seed Council to release seeds and seedlings in the region had been a major setback for farmers in the area.
He said that the South-East geo-political zone had a planting season that was different from the planting season in other parts of the country, adding that in the area, crop planting was expected to start around March and end in May.
Mekoh attributed the poor harvests recorded by most farmers in Anambra to the late release of seeds and seedlings, adding that if seeds and seedlings were released on time, farmers in the region would have bumper harvests.
He said that it was sad that the National Seeds Council often released seeds to farmers across the country around July when it was already late to plant in the South-East geopolitical zone.
Besides, Mekoh called on Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra to implement the State Agricultural Blueprint, with a view to tackling the challenges facing the fulfilment of agricultural ventures in the state.
“The agriculture blueprint prepared in the first term of Gov. Obiano contains solutions to the problems affecting the development of farming in Anambra.
“It is rather regrettable that the state government is not following that blueprint it drew in 2014, which today has left a wide gap between what the state government is claiming as to agriculture and what is actually on the ground,’’ he said.
Mekoh said that both small and large scale farmers would benefit a lot if the blueprint was implemented.
“It is very sad to note that all what the state had lined up to achieve in agriculture were abandoned and this has adversely affected the development of agriculture in the past few years,’’ he said.
The AFAN chairman said that key provisions in the blueprint included the development of farmlands in the agricultural belts to make them suitable for mechanised farming.
“Other provisions are development of infrastructure such as irrigation to boost dry season farming and synergy between big and small farmers, with a view to enhancing the capacity of small-scale farmers,’’ he said.
Mekoh said that if government could partner with genuine farmers, who in-turn would provide extension services to smaller farmers, the lot of off-takers the produce of small-scale farmers would improve.
“Most farmlands in the agricultural belts of Anambra cannot allow big tractors to work therein and until these obstacles are cleared, we cannot claim that we have arrived in terms of commercial agriculture,’’ he said