Federal lawmakers in the House of Representatives are targeting the creation of 5,000 direct and indirect jobs with the establishment of farm settlements across the country.
The lawmakers are also seeking to increase derivative funding from 10 percent to 20 percent from the Ecological Fund into Agriculture.
This is apart from legislative efforts by the House of Representatives Committee on Agricultural Services which began additional work on “a bill for an Act to Amend the National Agricultural Land Development Authority Act, 2004 to “Increase its membership and functions for strategic operations and interests and to vest in the authority powers to establish farm settlements across the country for the purposes of attaining food sufficiency and to establish the national farm settlement and youth empowerment agency to create a mechanised system of farming.”
The bill, which is being sponsored by a member, Hon. Evelyn Oboro (PDP, Delta), and two other members, was read for the second time last week Wednesday, and if passed and signed into law seeks the establishment of farm settlements in Federal Constituencies in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Members in the overwhelming support for the bill said it aligns with the present focus of the federal government to diversify the economy and create jobs for an estimated five thousand unemployed youths.
Representing Okpe/Sapele/Uvwie Federal Constituency of Delta State, Oboro in her debate of the general principles of the bill argued that apart from the job component of the bill, the element of lack of standardization of our food exports would be taken care of.
Also in a chat with journalists at the weekend, she said: “We have been talking about diversifying the economy of our great nation and agriculture is the main area we are looking at. The funding of the Agency is just 10 percent from the Ecological Funds. We are asking that it be moved up to 20 percent. It has nothing to do with the Federal Government budget.
“Not only that, we are also asking for farm settlements in different constituencies across the country. A law backing the establishment of farm settlements, where large and medium up-takers can do business with female and young farmers, will go a long way in stemming the rural-urban drift as well as reduce poverty in low-income communities.
“We cannot attain food security, reduce poverty, create thousands of jobs like we desperately need to, neither can we earn much needed foreign exchange by continuing with the situation where our farmers sell poorly packaged food items at subsistence level,” Oboro argued.
She noted that with the amendment of the bill, the issue of the export of substandard agricultural produce would be reduced to the minimum level in the country.
It is expected that the committee will turn in its report to the House in a couple of weeks in preparation for the third reading and final passage.
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER