Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Nanono, stated that Nigeria’s agricultural resources could contribute to its growth and development like oil, if well managed.
Speaking at the 44th Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD), he reiterated that the government was working on some agric projects that would create value.
The event’s theme was ‘Nigeria’s agriculture and food security in the face of COVID-19, floods and insecurity’.
The Minister said the government had established a portal to capture the biodata of farmers to assist them.
Nanono stated: “Although we initially set out to capture the data of 2.4 million farmers across the country, the results from the exercise have encouraged the Economic Sustainability Plan Team to expand the data capture to 10 million farmers.’’
The Minister stated that the database will be “a platform for the Federal Government’s intervention, to end ghost schemes and other unscrupulous practices in the agricultural industry”.
Nanono noted: “A major hallmark of our agricultural interventions is inclusiveness. We have catered for the youth, women, and many demographic considerations in our implementation strategies. As a stop-gap intervention, we launched the Agric for Food and Jobs Programme, originally conceived as an input loan for smallholder farmers across several commodities, including maize, rice, cotton, groundnut, sorghum, cowpea, soybean, sesame, cassava and oil palm.’’
He further said: “The scheme brought into a partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Commodity Association and Agricultural Platform Companies for effective facilitation. This, we believe, will not only improve production significantly but also aid in the off-taking of produce while providing input at a reduced price due to economy of scale.’’
The Minister also said seven states have set aside 19 grazing reserves for the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
”Seven of these 10 states have also earmarked about 19 grazing reserves for the implementation of the NLTP, with a total land size of approximately 400,00 hectares,” he said. He said the NLTP, when fully implemented, will bring an end to the crisis.
NCARD also approved the implementation of the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Plan (NATIP), the new policy of the Ministry under Nanono. It is a four-year blueprint designed to help Nigeria’s post-COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery.The policy will replace the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) launched in 2016.
Another highlight of the meeting was the approval of the mainstreaming of biofortification of agricultural produce, following a proposal submitted by the Ogun State Agriculture Commissioner, Dr Adeola Odedina, who reiterated the commitment of the state government to address food security.
He noted that the state was providing seeds of improved and nutritious varieties to farmers and working with relevant agencies and partners to facilitate technical and financial assistance to small holder farmers.
His team also collaborates with food processing industries and builds networks for raw material supply, thereby creating markets and building sustainability.
He said the state has been found worthy by international partners led by HarvestPlus to host the Seventh Nutritious Food Alliance – a yearly fair that brings together stakeholders from the public and private sectors, locally and internationally, from November 18 to 20 in Abeokuta.
Odedina said Ogun has identified technology use in farming, processing, and logistics, where steps were being made towards creating the industry of the future.
He said the government understands the challenge facing the agriculture industry but it is already seeing positive examples of the transition towards building a more efficient food system.
According to him, the urban population is putting pressure on the food system to adapt.
This, he noted, would require a food system that is more efficient, better able to meet consumer expectations, more profitable, and more resilient in the face of macro-economic pressures.