The Federal Government has distributed agricultural Inputs and quality seeds to encourage small-holder farmers to boost production simultaneously in Plateau and Osun states.
Speaking during the flag-off of the distribution in Jos, Plateau State today (February 17) the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, said the exercise would stimulate local production of food to achieve self-sufficiency, all-season farming, attract investments, create jobs and enhance the livelihood of farming families in the plateau and environs.
He pointed out that the agric sector has become one of the major contributors to the country’s economy, contributing about 25 per cent to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) and small-holder farmers, accounting for about 70 per cent of national food production.
“This was achieved through the implementation of strategic policies such as the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), the Green Imperative, Agricultural Promotion Policy, the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) among others,” he said.
He posited that the impact of these policies and programmes manifested during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the agricultural value chain and led to global trade disruptions and heavy economic losses for farmers.
Abubakar said to cushion the effect, the ministry designed a support programme targeting small-holder farmers to enable them to get back to the farms and continue production to sustainably rebuild their production activities and livelihood.
“The numerous initiatives being implemented by the ministry and the farmers will be supported with inputs seeds, growth enhancers, seedlings, sprayers, equipment, among others. Over 35 per cent of these items will go to women cooperative groups, 15 per cent to people with special needs and 50 per cent to farmer associations in various production clusters.”
The minister appealed to the beneficiaries to make judicious use of these inputs to enhance food production in the country, just as he appreciated the resilience of the farmers and urged them to key into the various interventions of government.
Also, Abubakar lauded the Plateau State government and development partners at both national and sub-national levels for their continuous support for the present administration in its focus towards achieving food sufficiency.
In his remarks, the state governor, Hon Simon Lalong, appreciated the Muhammadu Buhari-led government for the flag-off exercise in the state, stating that it would cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, promote dry season farming, boost production and generate income for the farmers and the state.
“As a government, we have done so much in addressing the problems of farmer-herder conflicts, as well as guaranteeing the safety of our farmers. Plateau State is among a few states which are in the process of implementing modern ranching encapsulated in the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP).
“The Yakubu Gowon Airport has been designated as an international cargo airport and we shall begin the export of exotic farm products such as vegetables, flowers, rice, maize, potato and yam, which are unique and peculiar to our weather.”
In her goodwill message, the minister of women affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, represented by the Ag. director, women development department, Funke Oladupo appealed to the women small-holder farmers to ensure that the agricultural inputs are utilised towards improving their livelihood and boosting production.
Simultaneously, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe distributed agricultural inputs for dry season farming to small-lholder farmers in Osogbo, Osun State.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information signed by Ezeaja Ikechukwu said the minister also commissioned four blocks of classrooms and demonstration ground abattoir at the Federal College of Veterinary and Medical Laboratory Technology, Vom, Jos, Plateau State.