President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that smallholder farmers have seen their livelihoods constrained by a host of challenges such as low productivity, lack of reliable markets, and poor rural access roads.
The president made this known at the 2nd National Commodity Alliance Forum organised by IFAD with the theme: Enhancing productivity and market opportunities for cassava value chain development.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, said that farmers are faced with a myriad of challenges in their day-to-day activities.
He said that these challenges include lack of access to quality extension, low-level mechanization, lack of market information, climate change effects, post-harvest losses, private sector engagement, and policy direction and implementation.
“Nigeria is currently the largest producer of cassava in the world with an estimated figure of around 60 million metric tons, and with the capacity to double or triple the production figure of the product is fully industrialized.
“Intermittently, cassava producers in Nigeria express frustration and lamentation over the inability to sell their fresh cassava roots,” he said
He noted that the private sector holds the key to providing a reliable market to small farmers as well as the means of engaging with the government on behalf of the small farmers.
Another challenge the president enumerated facing smallholder farmers was the lack of a reliable market which creates a vicious cycle especially with the cassava farmers.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, in his address said Nigeria’s agriculture is currently facing two key challenges of food insecurity and overdependence on food imports.
”Putting Nigeria’s agricultural sector on a path to growth will require deliberate actions to solve these two problems.”
The minister, who was represented by Dr. Mu’azu Abdulkadir, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said the vision of the ministry was to work with key stakeholders to build an agri-business economy to sustain prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals.
Alhaji Garba Bala, the National programme coordinator value chain development programme (VCDP), said that the VCDP has made progress in the last six years of effective implementation towards achieving the objectives of sustainable food security.
He said the programme has successfully enhanced the productivity and profitability of over 63,000 smallholder farmers and small-medium scale agro-processors, particularly women and youths.