By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Sabo, Thursday, disclosed that food insecurity and overdependence on food imports currently pose challenges to the agricultural sector.
Nanono made this known in his address at the 2nd National Commodity Alliance Forum (CAF) and Cassava Value Chain Investment Dialogue held in Abuja, where he said it is now urgent to put in place deliberate policies and programmes tackle challenges facing farmers and investors.
According to him, his Ministry will work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals.
However, the Minister maintained that the rice value chain is experiencing revolution, which represents a bold step in achieving national food security, as it was the focus of the first National Commodity Alliance Forum held in July, 2018. According to him Nigeria has now attained the level of self-sufficiency in rice production and significantly reduced the importation of the commodity.
The 2nd National Forum on Commodity Alliance Forum, CAF, was organized by the Federal Government of Nigeria and International Fund for Agricultural Development, FGN/IFAD, assisted Value Chain Development Programme, VCDP, of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with theme, ‘Partnership for Enhancing Productivity and Market Opportunities for Cassava Value Chain Development’.
He said: “The Forum is most appropriate and provides me with another opportunity to interface with key stakeholders in the agricultural sector and share views on how best to move the sector forward.
“Nigeria’s agriculture is currently facing two key challenges of food insecurity and over dependence on food imp
“Putting Nigeria agricultural sector on a path to growth will require deliberate actions to solve these two problems.
“Therefore, the vision of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) is to work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, generating exports and supporting sustainable income and job growth.
“As you are all aware, the agricultural sector is currently facing serious challenges arising from the insecurity challenges particularly in the North East, North West and North Central parts of the country, cattle rustling as well as the COVID-19 Pandemic. These challenges have significantly affected the productivity of the average Nigerian farmers along most of the agricultural value chains.
“The challenge of availability, access and affordability of inputs and its negative effect on production and productivity of farmers nationwide has also been of great concern to the FMARD. Federal and State Governments have put in place appropriate policies and programmes to boost fertilize production, and the provision of improved varieties of seed, planting materials and breeds of livestock in the country.”
The Minister also revealed that the Ministry has been working assiduously to come up with appropriate policy direction and plans.
Speaking with journalists, the National Coordinator, Federal Government of Nigeria/International Fund for Agricultural Development, Value Chain Development Programme, Garba Bala, explained the essence of the Workshop.
Bala said the Workshop is to facilitate development of the cassava value chain, which Nigeria currently is the largest producer of cassava in the world with an estimated figure of around 60 million metric tonnes.
He said: “We are here to launch our second commodities Alliance and forum. The programme had a similar function in 2018, and that of 2018 was development of rice value chain, but this year is the facilitation of cassava.
“The cassava value chain development has really been a little bit behind that of rice, a and that is the whole essence of the programme of today to see on how we can fast track the commodities alliance between the farmers and off-takers of cassava to beyond the ordinary consumption of cassava to the level of s, where we can promote the starch for manufacturers of food items-spaghetti, noodle, sanitizers, and the starch is needed by pharmaceutical companies.
“The idea of this programme is to promote cassava beyond the consumption level to a level where the farmers will off-take from the farmers. This is to encourage farmers to the high level of production, and that is why governors were invited to see how they can participate in the production beyond the level of counterpart funding to encourage the production of small scale industries.
“The programme is supporting farmers virtually in all aspects of production, processing and to promote the level of marketing, the programme is in partnership with farmers.”