The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has said that robust partnership and collaboration between the ministry and agricultural research institutions would fast-track the development of agricultural value chains, improve the quality of seeds and enhance productivity.
Abubakar disclosed this during the launch of the technical working documents and debriefing of outcomes of socio-economic studies by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), yesterday in Abuja.
“The Federal Government is determined to fill the gap and consolidate on the achievements recorded and focus on productivity enhancement, institutional realignment and private sector investment. Improved varieties and associated technologies are expected to be deployed to support the agribusiness undertaking in the country,” he said.
Abubakar pointed out that the mandate of the ministry remained taking Nigeria to the promised land, adding that this could only be achieved when researches are adaptive, focused on solving challenges and [meeting the] needs for entrepreneurs to take deliberate action to invest in the different agricultural value chains.
He said that the investment in agriculture is paying off and Nigeria has become the largest producer of rice and sorghum in Africa, second largest producer of millet in Africa and the first in cassava and yam production globally. He added that the potentials of crops, livestock, horticulture and fisheries sub-sectors are enormous.
“ICRISAT is recognised by the ministry in the development of value chains for sorghum, millet and groundnut, as well as climate-smart agricultural activities, including bio-reclamation of degraded land and crop residue utilisation by livestock.
“The ministry, therefore, requires your contribution and support towards delivering in these priorities. Only then will we be able to address the impact of the global health emergencies and high expectations of the present administration in the agriculture sector,” he added.
The minister stated that the drafting of the forthcoming National Agricultural and Technology Innovation Plan (NATIP) of the ministry will consider the scientific analysis and recommendations.
He assured that the ministry will continue to partner with the research institutes in the ongoing and new initiatives for the development of the agricultural value chains in the country. He also commended ICRISAT and its national partners, ARCN, IAR, CDA-BUK, LCRI, NAERLS and the state ADPs for their eminent support contributions in the agricultural value chain.
In his welcome remark, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, said that the launching of the 7 Technical Working Documents on the outcome of socio-economic studies by ICRISAT Nigeria is aimed at strengthening collaboration developing in the agricultural sector of the economy.
In his remarks, the chairman, House Committee on Agriculture Colleges and Research Institutes, Hon. Munir Agundi, lauded ICRISAT for giving policy-makers important information to serve as a guideline in terms of policy formulation and decision-making.
During his presentation on the background and objectives of the event, the country representative in Nigeria, ICRISAT, Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe stated that the main objective of the programme was to share the outcome of the seven socio-economic studies by the organisation aimed at strengthening and collaborating on developing the agricultural sector.
In a related development, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, inaugurated the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket (NAGS&AP), implementation and a technical working committee charged with getting all agro-dealers and service providers to provide a letter of commitment and undertaking to not be involved in any form of malpractice, adoption of a value chain approach in implementing the scheme (both upstream production and downstream processing, value addition, marketing up to consumption), ensuring that all inputs to be distributed to the farmers must be of proven quality, among others.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information, signed by Mohammed Gana, said the committee has the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development as chairman and 16 other members.