By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As Nigerians grapple with economic challenges, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, Friday, disclosed that 2 million Nigerians have been lifted out of poverty through the agricultural sector in the last two years.
Abubakar made this known at a media briefing in commemorating the 2021 World Food Day with theme, ‘Our Actions are our Future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life’.
He also explained that the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy, NATIP, covering 2021 – 2025 is developed to provide integrated approach to agricultural development in terms of access and application of improved inputs, linkages between agricultural research and training institutions, input provision for farmers, agricultural mechanization, Extension Services, provision of rural Infrastructure, access to affordable funding, Climate Change management and Sustainable agriculture, Nutrition, and security of Agricultural land and Investments.
READ ALSO: 2021 World Food Day: FG expresses worry over threat of food wastage to achieve food security
He said: “Agriculture was the only sector in Nigeria that recorded marginal growth during the Covid-19 lock-down period, spanning through the 4th quarter of 2019 to 1st and 2nd quarter of year 2020 with an average contribution of 24.23 per cent to the country’s GDP, (Statistic 1st/2nd Quarter Report, 2020).The impressive 2021 second quarter growth rate of 5.01 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) released on Thursday 19th August by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) has agriculture (crop production) and food manufacturing as major contributors.
“In addition, through our various empowerment initiatives along production, processing and marketing of agricultural commodities we have lifted a total of 4,205,576 Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years. This is going to continue as part of Mr. Presidents promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.
“The Green Imperative programme which is expected to address the long standing agricultural mechanization problem is underway. The programme would ensure adequate supply of tractors and other implements to farmers on a public private partnership arrangement. The model adopted is sustainable and would ameliorate the low production challenge due to lack of sufficient machineries.”
Meanwhile, according to the Minister, to ensure the realization of the Moputo/Malabo Declaration on allocation of 10 per cent of annual budget to agricultural activities, Federal Government will engage State and Local Governments.
He also disclosed that the Agricultural Trust Fund Bill has passed second reading at the National Assembly, which if passed into law would address emergency funding for agricultural activities in the country.
However, the Minister acknowledged that there have been challenges bedeviling the sector’s productivity which include insecurity which have sacked many farming communities in the North and has greatly affected food production in the last four years; farmer/herder clashes, banditry, and cattle rustling.
But he expressed optimism that, “The National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, would address all the problems associate with our livestock production activities and guarantee adequate supply of quality meat for domestic consumption and export for foreign exchange earnings.”
Meanwhile, according to him, the Ministry has been able to build capacity of 2,205,576 million farmers-youths and women, who were trained and empowered on different agricultural value chains as well as training and deployment of 75,000 Agriculture Extension workers has reach an advanced stage.