By Machela Osagboro
In a continuing effort to revamp and rebrand the Ministry of Agriculture, farmers are being told to pay-up all their arrears for lands leased from the ministry. The negligent farmers are being encouraged to pay these monies to the Extension Division at the Peasant Development Office (PDO) by the end of March, 2020.
Senior Extension Officer, Owolabi Elabanjo spoke to OBSERVER media and stated that the decision came after, “we met in the office, and when the staff looked in the books, we realised that we have a lot of revenue out there at stake.”
Elabanjo revealed that over 1200 farmers renting land, have years of fees in arrears, and they have to meet this new deadline to ensure a peaceful partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture.
He said that letters had already been sent to all the delinquent farmers and that, “we are using this opportunity to let the others know they have to come in and pay.”
Elabanjo added that after the Prime Minister’s charge to “shape up or ship out,” the extension workers have been on the ball, and have committed themselves to improving their overall performance along with the revenue generated within the department. “We want to make sure that we collect all things in the books.” He added that payment is important because, “a lot of things have been going on, and we want to encourage them [farmers] to work and dialogue with us.”
According to Elabanjo, these outstanding fees have slowed down operations at the PDO, and that this announcement is just an encouragement and not an attack on the farmers’ character.
“It’s not a way of bashing, we want to make sure we collect all things on the books, and let us move to the next level of agricultural development.”
The senior extension officer concluded by saying that, as a part of the ministry’s rebranding efforts, the extension officers will be engaging in plowing activities that will start in Bolans, then on to Jennings and Christian Valley, then down to the south-west. The officers are in the field to evaluate how many farmers need this assistance to get cultivation underway.