In a bid to enhance farmers’ access to credit facilities, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, has revealed that the government is undertaking significant reforms in institutions such as the Bank of Agriculture, National Agriculture Development Fund and Nigeria Agriculture Insurance Corporation.
Speaking on the National Television Authority’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme, Kyari highlighted the government’s commitment to addressing the challenges faced by farmers in obtaining financial support. He mentioned that, concurrently, the government is subsidising farm inputs to alleviate the burden on farmers while the restructuring of these institutions is in progress.
The minister expressed concern over the impact of floods on farmers during the previous planting season, leading many to abstain from farming in the 2023 wet season. This decision, he noted, contributed to food inflation, exacerbated by the naira redesign policy implemented earlier in the year during the harvest season.
Market intelligence reports, as shared by Kyari, indicated that farmers were compelled to sell their produce at significantly reduced prices. To counteract these challenges, the Federal Government decided to subsidise inputs for the 2023 dry season farming, leveraging the African Development Bank facility.
Kyari emphasised the importance of cultivating wheat locally, given its high demand for confectionaries and daily needs. He underscored that the importation of wheat would deplete the country’s foreign exchange reserves. In light of this, the minister disclosed that the Federal government is distributing free wheat seeds to farmers, with fertiliser subsidized at 50 per cent to facilitate access.
With President Bola Tinubu’s declaration of a food security emergency, Kyari outlined the ministry’s focus on increasing yields through both dry and wet season farming. He highlighted the deployment of technology to harvest floodwater for dry season farming, emphasising the importance of data on farmers and their farms for effective monitoring.
Expressing concern about the lack of comprehensive data on farmers, Kyari disclosed ongoing collaborations with state governments to address this issue. He also emphasised the revival of the extension workers system and the deployment of technology in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.
Kyari stressed the need for mechanization in agriculture to attract more youth to the sector. He assured that the government is actively working on providing farmers with access to mechanisation. In combating post-harvest losses, the minister mentioned the existence of silos across the country, some of which have been concessioned, while others are undergoing rehabilitation, according to a statement by the ministry’s director of information, Mabel Obe.