The Federal Government has established an online portal to ensure efficient and effective monitoring of its intervention in the agriculture sector.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, made this known at the 44th council meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) held in Abuja.
He said 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.
“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 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,” he pointed out.
Nanono said a major hallmark of government’s agricultural interventions was inclusiveness, adding “we have catered for the youth, women and many demographic considerations in our implementation strategies”.
He further explained: “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.
“The scheme brought into a partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, commodity associations 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”.
Stressing agricultural productivity can only improve through mechanization of production activities, he stated that “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 transfers, the Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV)”.
In his remarks, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Alhaji Mohammed Bello, represented by his special assistant, Prof. Mohammed Usman, said the theme of this year’s council meeting ‘Agriculture and Food Security in the face of COVID – 19, Floods and Insecurity’ was apt enough and a reminder to the effect that we are yet to win the fight on COVID – 19 Pandemic.
He spoke of the 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 “Nigerian 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 per cent from the contraction of 3.6 per cent (negative growth) experienced in the 3rd quarter. The feat was achieved through the contribution mainly attributed to the performance of agricultural sector.
“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 said the National Assembly would fast-track the bills being raised 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 Umakhihe, thanked the stakeholders for their commitment and technical support during the 44th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development.