Says COVID-19 border closure made Nigeria food self-sufficient
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, at the weekend, disclosed that the Federal Government will soon boost farmers’ activities with a stimulus of over N600 billion.
Nanono made known in a statement signed by the Director Information, Theodore Ogaziechi, while on a tour of Dangote Fertilizer Plant in Lagos State.
According to him, the tour was part of meeting with other fertilizer companies in Lagos State, to fashion out private sector participation that would galvanize the sector, especially in the heat of COVID-19 pandemic as regards to food production and security ahead of 2021 that would also mitigate the high cost of food currently experienced in the country.
The statement reads in part, “The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, has revealed that the Federal Government has resolved to inject over N600 billion as stimulus-response into the agriculture sector, targeting small scale farmers, to ensure food security and sustainability. The Minister stated this while on a weekend tour of Dangote Fertilizer Plant.”
The statement further reads, “Nanono had explained that the well over N600 billion stimulus-response which targets farmers nationwide will take off with an initial 2.4 million farmers in the first instance. He also noted that to avoid the abuse of government funds and good intentions, the support will be in kind in the form of inputs and not cash as was the practice in the past.”
Meanwhile, according to the statement as a result of the closure of international borders as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria now is food self-sufficient, “The Minister added that the forceful closure of all international borders, necessitated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, has made it evident that Nigeria can conveniently and sustainably feed itself.”
The statement also disclosed that in another engagement, the Minister and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, had interaction with agro-input dealers in Lagos, where they discussed quality, affordability, and availability of fertilizer across the country.
“The big player, Dangote Group and other fertilizer blending companies, Premium Agro Limited, Elephant Group, and Kewalram Group stated that raw materials for fertilizer blending, most especially ammonium phosphate, is the major challenge they face.
“However, the cheery news is that Dangote Group is considering the exploration of a local sources for the raw materials which they are hopeful and confident that once the domestic source is remedied, the problem of fertilizer shortfall will become history in the country.
“The Minister was overwhelmed with this revelation and is of the opinion that with the impressive strategies initiated by the Dangote Group, the outcome will change the narrative of agriculture, food production/ fertilizer availability and the nation’s economy for good before the close of 2020”, the statement added.
The Minister had earlier paid a courtesy visit to the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, where he pledged to support the farming communities with rural roads, solar lighting, and water holes so as to encourage and empower them to increase productivity.
He also promised to collaborate with Lagos State Government in the fishing sector in order to tap the potentials of its marine endowments and drastically reduce the importation of fish in Nigeria.
Sanwo –Olu who was represented by the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, disclosed that after completion of the State’s rice mill which is the largest in the country with a capacity of 30 million metric tonnes per annum Nigeria’s export capacity of the commodity will tremendously increase and also drastically reduce the local cost of rice bag in the market.