ABUJA –  THE Federal Government Thursday declared that its ongoing transformation agenda in the agricultural sector would create over 3.5 million jobs for the teaming unemployed Nigerians.

Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina who disclosed this while featuring at the ministerial platform for the 2012 National Democracy Day and the first anniversary of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, in Abuja, said the programme will also provide N300 billion to Nigerian farmers.

According to him, “ the transformation agenda sets to create over 3.5 million jobs from rice, cassava, sorghum, cocoa and cotton value chains. With many more jobs to come from other value chains under implementation.

“The programme aims to provide over N300 billion of additional income in the hands of Nigerian farmers. Over N60 billion is to be injected into the economy from the substitution of 20% of bread wheat flour with cassava flour.

“We would have enable Nigeria to be food secure by increasing production of key food staple by 20 million tons, rice, 2 million metric tons, cassava, 17 million metric tons and sorghum, 1 million metric tons.”

Dr. Adesina explained further that, “the action plan focuses on some priority agricultural commodities namely, rice, cassava, sorghum, cocoa, cotton, maize, palm oil, diary, beef, leather, poultry and fisheries”, adding, “the operations of the agricultural transformation agenda based on prioritisation of commodity value chains along the comparative six geo-political zones.

He stated further that “reform in the input supply sector to stop direct government involvement in the procurement, supply and distribution of fertilizer and seeds to farmers. This involves provision of 50% support for seeds and fertilizers for farmers.

“Empowerment of the private sector to sell their inputs directly to farmers and build their supply chains to get to rural areas. Provision of risk sharing guarantee to leverage loans from banks for seed and fertilizer companies and agro dealers.

“We are establishing private sector led Commodity trade and Market Development Corporations for the various commodity value chains which will coordinate the entire value chains in Nigeria, and enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness, while expanding and stabilizing income for our farmers.”

The minister revealed that, “we are working with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on the introduction of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, to de-risk agricultural financing and mitigate against the impact of natural disasters as losses of agricultural investments by facilitating low-interest credit to farmers through commercial banks and the liberalization of the insurance sector to increase farmers access to cost effective and agricultural insurance schemes in Nigeria.”

On achievement recorded so far by the ministry, Dr. Adesina said, “the government is utilizing the N10 billion industrial credit facility by the Bank of Industry, BOi, LTD, to finance the establishment of 17 rice mills of which one plant had been commissioned in Ebonyi State. Two rice mill projects are on-going, while investment into the remaining 14 rice mill projects with additional 480, 000 milling capacity would be promoted through the Public Private Partnership arrangement.”

He said, “Nigeria’s rice has good quality and taste to compete with imported rice. Import substitution to save $2.5 billion per year.”

Other achievements according to him, was the securing of Messrs Dominion, the largest rise producer in Kenya to invest $40 million in rice production in Taraba State with a view to facilitating large cultivation of rice involving several small scale farmers to supply raw materials to processing plants.

He said, “government has facilitated the acquisition of machines and equipments from China for setting up 100 rice mills to process 2.1 MT of parboiled rice. Forty of these will be ready in the next 10 months”, he said.

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