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Audu Ogbeh

Land Use Act killing commercial farming in Nigeria—Ogbeh

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh has said the current Land Use Act is not favourable to agricultural activities and needs amendment.

Ogbeh stated this in the ministry’s Policy and Strategy document made available to to select media outfits in Lagos yesterday.

He said that the Federal Government’s Agricultural Promotion Policy would pursue amendment of the current Land Use Act.

“Land is a vital input for agricultural production, and regulated access to it is critical.

“A key issue is land title and tenure, which define the conditions and rules guiding the right to hold a piece of land for one purpose or another.

“About 95 per cent of agricultural lands are not titled, effectively nullifying their capacity to be treated as collateral for financial transactions,’’ the minister said.

He said that the key constraint to land ownership was the cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive process of securing and perfecting title.

“Implementation of policies does not do enough to ensure inclusion of women in agriculture,’’ Ogbeh said.

He added that there was a gender bias in access to land, with women facing more difficulty accessing it than men.

Ogbeh also listed as additional constraints,  land grabbing in communities and unclear rules and governance regarding management of land for use in farming versus grazing for nomadic cattle population.

According to him, “We want to facilitate the recognition and entitlement of land ownership by formal and customary means to assist collateralisation.

“We also want policies that create a transparent, liquid market for agricultural land, improving likelihood of land being used as collateral.

“Land rights that incentivise small farmers to invest in their land and raise their productivity are our target, among others,’’ he added.

The minister said that though the Land Use Act stipulated that state governors should hold land in trust for the people, some communities where land situated blocked access to it.

According to him, this contributes to difficulties investors faced in acquiring land for agricultural investment.

Ogbeh added that in some cases, bureaucracy and approving authorities could also be obstacles to land allocation, even when community’s support was not in question.

He, however, noted that a number of states had made appreciable progress regarding simplification of the process of land allocation and issuance of certificates of occupancy.



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