The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Shehuri, has solicited more financial support to upscale massive investment in the agricultural sector.
Speaking during a virtual, high-level panel discussion to round off activities to celebrate the 2021 World Food Day, he averred that agriculture remained the focus of the Federal Government’s diversification agenda and, thus, deserves better agro financing to provide credit facilities to support activities in the sector’s value chain.
Shehuri said the ministry is strongly committed to meeting the domestic food requirement, exporting at qualitative levels and creating a favourable business environment to make agro-business thrive.
“There is a deliberate strategic approach towards job creation, conservation of foreign exchange and attainment of national food security.
“Under my watch, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) has been directed to interface with key seed industry stakeholders to ensure that early generation seeds (EGS) are structured to ensure uninterrupted supply of certified seeds.
“There is also ongoing campaign by the council on boosting production through the use of improved seeds.
“The partnership with the government of Brazil to pilot the establishment of 117 mechanization centres across the country is ongoing. When these centres are completed and operational, farmers will be able to buy mechanised services for a fee with relative ease, without need to own expensive equipment for farm operations.
“Nigeria’s agriculture has done well under this present administration, by going ahead to become the world leading producer of yam 18.3 million MT, cassava (stead rise to 70 million metric tonnes), second largest producer of sorghum just after the United State of America, fifth largest producer of oil palm and cocoa. Also, Nigeria has seen a huge share of her Gross Domestic Production contributed by the agricultural sector, year after year.
“Nigeria is a global player in agricultural export. In 2019, she exported sesame seed oil worth N77.04 billion, cocoa N66.73 billion, cashew nuts N45.6 billion, frozen shrimps and prawns N7.46 billion, ginger N3.34 billion, processed and semi-processed agro-food N1.84 billion and cotton N609.33 million.
“The potential in this strategic sector is enormous and there is enthusiasm and political will to return the agricultural sector as the highest contributor to the National Gross Domestic Product by the year 2025,” he added.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information, signed by its chief information officer, Ezeaja Ikemefuna, said other panellists at the virtual summit included the senior special advisor to the president on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Princess Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, represented by her assistant, Rose Keffas; Senior special advisor to the president on agriculture, Dr. Andrew Kwasari; the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Nigeria and ECOWAS’ representative, Fred Kafeero; International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s country programme manager, Patrick Habamenshi; president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Arc. Kabir Ibrahim; World Food Programme (WFP) country director, Ronald Sibanda, among others.