The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has revealed that the Ministry has established an online portal to ensure efficient and effective monitoring of Federal Government intervention in the Agric sector. The initiative would capture the bio data of the farmers and link with Geographical information of their farmed plots, crops and the volumes of production in the country.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the 44th council meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD), held at the International Conference Centre, today, Thursday 17th June, 2021, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono stated that ‘’ 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 interventions going forward, putting an end to ghost schemes and other unscrupulous practices in the agricultural industry”.
Alhaji Sabo Nanono noted that ‘’ a major hallmark of our agricultural interventions is inclusiveness. We have catered for the youths, women and many demographic considerations in our implementation strategies’’.
Nanono explained that ‘’ as a stop – gap intervention ,we launched the Agric for Food and Jobs Program ,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 reduced price due to economy of scale’’.
The Minister noted that ‘’ the challenges brought by the emergence of the COVID – 19 Pandemic ,floods and insecurity has galvanized the government into setting up necessary structure to address infrastructural deficiency ,technology gaps, security challenges and extension inadequacy . This approach is believed to be the right one for achieving our desired economic diversification and national development’’.
He noted that the NCARD would promote the existing policies, programmes and projects at the national and sub- national levels for the purpose of entrenching synergy, best practices, entrepreneurship, livelihood and growth in the sector.
Nanono reemphasized that ‘’ agricultural productivity can only improve through mechanization of production activities. In our effort to improve agricultural production profile of the country, we have entered into a partnership with the government of Brazil through one of their foremost technology transfer, the Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV)’’.
He further said that ‘’ this partnership has yielded an Agricultural Mechanization loan to the tune of Nine Hundred and Ninety Five Million euros .This shall be granted to Nigeria entrepreneurs to establish service centers across all the 774 Local Government of the country ,selling services to all categories of farmers and thereby helping to improve their productivity’’.
‘’The services centers shall be either a Type 1,supporting production activities or Type 2,supporting processing and packaging activities’’, he said.
The Minister informed that ‘’ the ministry in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council has been working to exploit strategic advantage in the production of commodities like seasame,hibiscus ,cotton and sorghum to improve production protocols to conform with internationally acceptable standards, maintenance of an exporters’ directory and exporter certificate verification ‘ portal’’.
He stressed that ‘’ the ministry has embarked on increasing the number of available extension workers in the different aspects of our operations. This year, about One Thousand Two Hundred Extension Workers have been trained ‘’.
The Minister highlighted that ‘’ with the green imperative project launching soon, there is a component of it that will see the training of extension workers in agricultural mechanization and other important aspects of crop and livestock operations’’.
He pointed out that ‘’ the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) ,has been adjudged worldwide to be well – conceived project which seeks to transform our livestock sector from nomadic – dependent sector into an organized ranching one.
He added that ‘’ to this end ,22 state and Federal Capital Territory have registered with the NLTP Office .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 400,000 hectares”.
According to him, it is therefore safe to say ,that NLTP ,when fully implemented will bring an end to the incessant clashes between the farmers and herdsmen as the same time introduce the herders to the modern way of raising cattle , with all added benefits of improved feeding ,animal and human ,genetic improvenment,value addition and better socio – economic standing for all participants’’.
In his remarks, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Alhaji Mohammed Musa Bello, represented by the Special Assistant, Prof. Mohammed Usman, said that the theme of this year’s Council meeting ” Agriculture and Food Security in the face of COVID – 19, Floods and Insecurity is apt enough and a reminder to the effect that we are yet to win the fight on COVID – 19 Pandemic. He added there is need for robust interaction and ideas among stakeholders on how to reposition the Agricultural sector.
In his welcome address, the Minister of State ,Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri , said that ‘’ Nigeria economy had its GDP contracted for two consecutive terms of the second and third quarter in 2020 ; leading to recession . It was in the 4th quarter of 2020 that the economy returned to positive growth with GDP expanding to 0.1% from the contraction of 3.6% (negative growth) experienced in the 3 quarter. The feat was achieved through the contribution mainly attributed to the performance of agricultural sector’.
Hon Baba Shehuri observed that ‘’ as matter of fact ,local production of maize ,rice, cassava ,potatoes ,yam and other staples steadily increased, it is also the same story in livestock ,fisheries and dairy sector. The fact that we did not import food during lockdown era was a testimony that we can grow what we eat and eat what we produce’’.
In his Goodwill message, the Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, Hon. Muntari Mohammed Dandutse stated the National Assembly would fasttrack the bills been raise as outcome or resolution of the NCARD towards achieving food security and job creation.
While giving a vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Ernest A. Umakhihe, thanked the stakeholders for their commitment and technical support during the 44th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development.
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For: Director, Information (FMARD)