The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has said the Federal Government’s exploitation of the nation’s agricultural potential has lifted 4,205,576 million Nigerians out of poverty through agriculture in the last two years.
He said that it was achieved through the ministry’s strategic policies and programmes and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration which sees agriculture as the alternative to oil for meaningful economic diversification.
Speaking during a ministerial press briefing to mark the 2021 World Food Day, with the theme “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life,” he stated that the ERGP envisages that investment in agriculture can guarantee food security, have the potential to be a major contributor to job creation, and will save foreign exchange required for food imports.
“Through our various empowerment initiatives on production, processing and marketing of agricultural commodities we have lifted a total of 4,205,576 Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years. This is going to continue as part of Mr. President’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years,” he said.
According to him, the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) and Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) are known to be the most recent, while the development of a successor policy termed National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP) spanning 2021 to 2025 is now in progress.
“The ATA was built on the principle that agriculture is a serious business and should be supported. It focused on making Nigeria’s agriculture more productive, efficient and effective; creating jobs, generating foreign exchange and reducing food importation. While the APP was designed to address two main challenges – the inability to meet domestic food requirements and an inability to export at levels required for market success – it also centred on food security, import substitution, job creation and economic diversification,” he stated.
The minister further said that the Green Imperative programme expected to address the long-standing agricultural mechanization problem is underway.
He mentioned that the programme would ensure adequate supply of tractors and other implements to farmers on a public-private partnership arrangement; a sustainable model adopted to ameliorate challenges of low production, due to lack of sufficient machinery.
He assured that the Federal Government, through the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), would address all the problems associated with Nigeria’s livestock production activities and guarantee an adequate supply of quality meat for domestic consumption and export for foreign exchange earnings.
Abubakar expressed unalloyed appreciation to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the initiative’s development partners – NAFN, Action Aid and other NGOs – who contributed immensely towards the success of this year’s World Food Day. He promised that the Federal Government remained committed to welcoming the support, collaboration and partnerships of all concerned stakeholders towards ensuring food and nutrition security for Nigerians and the world.
Earlier in his remarks, FAO country representative in Nigeria, Mr. Fred Kafeero, said: “Everyone has a role to play in ending hunger by changing the way we produce, adding value to our food products, making food choices that improve our health and reducing wastage and loss of our food.”
Kafeero stated the need for government to focus on targeted interventions on research and development to make farming more technologically advanced, innovation in digital agriculture and re-skilling young people and improving literacy rates among women.