We’ll bring innovation into farming for maximum output ― Buhari

• Says good crisis averted despite COVID-19

President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to channel to innovative ways of farming that will guarantee maximum output in the country.

Speaking at the National Food Security Council half at the presidential villa, Abuja, on Thursday, he noted that there is need for more effort to increase food production and self-sufficiency, assuring that the Federal Government will continue to promote policies that favour investments in the agricultural sector.

The President pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the level of preparedness of nations to shocks of food security.

He explained that the Federal Government’s wisdom in promoting self-sufficiency over the years helped significantly in averting a food crisis.

He added: “The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated more than any event in recent history how countries must strive harder to protect food systems. It has also exposed the limits of dependency on other countries.

“In the last five years, we have recorded notable achievements. Despite the decline in GDP by 6.1 per cent in Q2 of 2020 as a direct result of coronavirus, the agricultural sector continued to grow because of government targeted policies.’’

President Buhari commended Nigerian farmers for contributing to the stability in food security, saying that the favourable rainy seasons should serve as encouragement for many to take up farming as a vocation.

According to him, “I am pleased to note that most Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the agriculture and agric-business sector. I want to assure you that this government will continue to support these initiatives and many more to come.’’

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Speaking further the President said:

“To protect agricultural investments and boost confidence to our farmers we have deployed thousands of agro-rangers and integrated rural communities to the formal economy by extending access to credit and inputs to rural farmers and building feeder roads.

“We have invested in building our strategic grain reserves in recent years which we recently released significant quantities to cushion the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to vulnerable households and industries,’’ the President said.

President Buhari sympathized with farmers and families that lost loved ones to recent floods in the country, assuring that the government will support those that were affected.

The President is the Chairman of the National Food Council, which was constituted in 2018.

Members include the governors of Kebbi, Taraba, Plateau, Lagos, Ebonyi and Delta states; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Chief of Staff to the President, the National Security Adviser and seven cabinet ministers.

The ministers in the council are that of Agriculture and Rural Development; Finance; Interior; Industry, Trade and Investment; Water Resources; Environment; as well as Budget and National Planning.

Also among the membership are the Chief of Defence Staff; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; the Directors-General of the Department of State Services and the National Intelligence Agency, as well as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

The broad objectives of the Council include developing sustainable solutions to the farmers–herdsmen clashes, as well as climate change and desertification and their impact on farmland.

The Council also aims to address the issues of grazing areas and lakes, rivers and other water bodies; oil spillage and its impact on Niger Delta fishing communities; piracy and banditry; agricultural research institutions and extension services and the problem of smuggling.

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