Security agencies urged to remove bottlenecks to food transport

A trade facilitator, Mr Willy Thomas, has urged security agencies to remove bottlenecks hindering farmers from transporting their farm produce from one trade route to another.

Thomas made the plea on Monday in Abeokuta at a one-day expanded Commodity Alliance Forum (CAF) to sensitise, agriculture value chain actors and stakeholders on hindered movement of produce in Ogun state.

He lamented that the issue of trade route were a major problem confronting the farmers.

He said that the government only focused on electricity, road, water and health, saying nobody had sat down to talk about how long it took farmers to get their goods from one point to another.

He described trade routes being maned by security agencies as tantamount to extortion and multiple taxation from farmers and traders moving their produce from one point to another.

Our security agencies in the trade borders pretend to be looking out for criminals and to check vehicle documents but are basically on the route to extort money from the farmers.

Without trade routes, all farm produce will rot in farms, so we need free and simple trade routes to enable movement of farmers produce, he said.

According to him, wiping out corruption in the system and good governance are the solution to free trade route.

Most of our security agencies are not well equipped and cannot take care of their staff, this is why they stay on the trade routes to extort money from traders and farmers who did not commit any offence, he said.

He however appealed to security agencies to remove all bottlenecks hindering free flow of goods from one place to another.

The IFAD/VCDP state programme coordinator, Mr Samuel Adeogun noted that the essence of the meeting was to ensure free movement for farm produce.

The essence of the meeting is to bring the key stakeholders together particularly those in the security sector to be able to resolve some of the challenges that the farmers are having in the movement of their produce within states.

We want to ensure that the produce get to the right places at the right time with minimal destruction, knowing that most of the agricultural produce are perishable and if they do not get to their destinations on time, it could be costly for farmers.

The complaints we get from our farmers is that when produce are being seized by the law enforcement agencies without no reason, it makes them lose a lot of money.

Also in the course of transportation, some of the produce spend three to four days before getting to their destinations and that is why many of them are having problems.

We are not asking farmers to go against the laws but to bring out the best way of working together to have a seamless movement of goods and services across the state, he said.

Representatives of all security agencies including the Nigeria Police force, Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE), vigilante groups were present.

The security agencies however advised farmers and their transporters to adhere to all trade route rules and regulations.

They further advised the transporters to get the original documents of their vehicles, genuine drivers licenses, trailer and tipper permits before putting the vehicles on the road.

They called for synergy between with law enforcement agencies, farmers and other stakeholders to talk about the problems which should culminate to signing of a memorandum of understanding with farmers and other stakeholders.

The programme was facilitated by International Fund and Development � Assisted Value Chain Development Programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, GIZ and Alajapa Trade Route Advocacy in Ogun.

Source: Voice of Nigeria