The Federal Government has called for a robust synergy with State Governments and other critical Stakeholders in cushioning the effect of COVID -19 pandemic on food security stating that this will ensure food security, economic growth, job creation and prevent food scarcity in the country.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, stated this during the flag-off ceremony of the distribution of free agricultural inputs to farmers as part of the mitigation measures against the pandemic in Ibadan, Oyo State
Shehuri noted that “a number of countries have banned or drastically reduced food exports to avoid scarcity of food. With dwindling oil revenues and limited opportunity to import food from other countries, one would only wonder what Nigeria would have been experiencing today, in terms of food supply, if this Administration had not taken the right policy steps and remained focused and steadfast in investing in agriculture.”
The Minister emphasized that the Ministry is supporting breeder and foundation seeds production and linking up with the private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers for excellent yield.
He pointed out that ‘’since smallholders are the most vulnerable, it becomes imperative for the government to support them with the much-needed inputs especially seeds, which is the most important factor that influences farmers’ yield in order to enable them to recover quickly from the set back of the Pandemic.”
Shehuri informed that “the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers which include different categories of seeds of Kenaf, yam and cocoa seedlings is part of the Ministry’s intervention to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and avert food scarcity in 2021.”
“Through this effort and other complementary interventions by different stakeholders, the government hopes to increase the resilience of farmers and the national food systems in general.”
“The Ministry is supporting kenaf farmers through the Kenaf Producers, Processors and Marketers Association (KEPPMAN) with 19,672 kg kenaf foundation seeds.”
The Minister added that “the yam farmers through their national association and other cooperative groups is also being supported with about 12 MT of foundation seed for the production of certified seeds.”
“The Ministry is also distributing over 18,000kg of organic insecticide to combat armyworm infestation in maize. We are also distributing 66,000 cocoa seedlings to farmers nationwide. These seeds are being given to farmers free of charge while other inputs are given at 75% subsidy.”
“In our input distribution efforts, at least 35% of the inputs are targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women. This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly.”
He noted that “the Ministry and its research institutions are working towards making Nigeria self-sufficient in good quality seeds and its availability to farmers as a foundation for attaining food and nutrition security as well as industrialization.”
He emphasized that the Ministry is supporting breeder and foundation seeds production and linking up with the private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers.
Shehuri stressed that “this coupled with Ministry’s efforts to improve rural infrastructure and other value-chains supports would invariably contribute to the attainment of Mr President’s desire to ensure easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians.”
In his remarks, the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Oluseyi Makinde, represented by the Secretary of the State Government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun, said “the countries that have successfully managed their own agricultural transformation have incorporated the following processes: modernizing business, strengthening the links between process, production and market.
The Governor added that “they have also adopted innovative and modern technology to ensure a data-driven process that is empirically documented and evidence-driven.” He appreciated the Federal Government for being proactive toward ensuring that Nigeria averted food scarcity in 2021.
In his welcome address, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development in Oyo State, Hon. Ojekunle Ojemuyiwa stated that “this event is very apt at this critical period of COVID-19 Pandemic which is ravaging the economy of the world including Nigeria. COVID- 19 Pandemic is a monster that all hands must be on deck to curtail and eradicate from our society.”
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