2021 harvest: mixed fortunes for Nigerian farmers in North – West states

…agric sector lifts 4m Nigerians out of poverty in 2 years-Abubakar
By Gabriel Ewepu

AS Nigeria remains Africa’s largest market, the Federal Government, Tuesday, assured 100 Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, of industrializing the nation’s agricultural sector for ease of doing business.

The assurance was given by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, in a keynote address while declaring open maiden edition of the ‘National Agribusiness Stakeholders and Investors Summit and Nigeria Farmers and Agribusiness Award’ held in Abuja.

According to Abubakar, Nigeria has taken a leading role globally in Cassava, Yam, Maize, Palm oil and Rice production, and currently the largest producer of rice in Africa with a production level of over 9 million metric tons from 2019.

Meanwhile, organisers said there will be crowning of 2021 Miss Agribusiness, recognition of Agribusiness Legend of the year, and will end with a book launch and exhibition by a select of 50 Agro-Investment companies as well as lectures and Paper Presentations.

He said: “Government is committed to industrializing the agricultural sector for increased productivity, efficiency and competitiveness across Local and International markets.

“Agriculture is now being acknowledged and promoted as a business and not a development programme away from the primordial perspective and able to sufficiently satisfy the socio-economic needs of its practitioners and grow the nation’s economy.

“Our agenda is to guarantee the vibrancy of the sector; agriculture must be seen as a business and haven for investment. We are integrating food production, storage, food processing and industrial manufacturing to establish the linkages necessary in the agricultural commodity value chain.

“The value chain as a development strategy considers the role of the players from food production to consumption and designed to empower the small holder producers, ensure that processors have good quality raw materials and the consumers accept products with satisfaction.

“It is remarkable that in the past three years Nigeria has taken a leading role globally in Cassava, Yam, Maize, Palm oil and Rice production. We are currently the largest producer of rice in Africa with a production level of over 9 million metric tons from 2019.

“The Federal Government is investing in the development of additional 10Nos large scale integrated rice mills across the country of combined minimum capacity of 320MT per day which when completed will enhance Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in rice production.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has made it abundantly clear that this country needs to hold on to agriculture as a precursor to our economic development in this 21st century. Once we get agriculture right then everything else will go right.”

However, he acknowledged challenges of investors in the agricultural sector, but also assured that government is doing all within its power to address these challenges so the continue will continue to move on.

According to the Minister, agriculture was the only sector in the Country that recorded marginal growth during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown spanning through the 4th quarter of 2019 to the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2020 with an average contribution of 24.23% to the nation’s GDP (Statista 1st /2nd quarter report 2020).

“In order to boost agricultural production, the Ministry partnered the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to facilitate increased domestic production and marketing of NPK fertilizers at affordable commercial rate and timely delivery to farmers.

“This has aided resuscitation of 41 Nos blending plants, improved quality control, created about 250,000 jobs, saved foreign exchange and supported food security in the country.
“It is notable that through our various empowerment support Initiatives in 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 effort will continue as part of H.E. Mr President’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.

“We are committed to a robust and sustainable agricultural sector with a stable and viable economic climate for Local and Foreign Investments. The Federal Government has deliberately designed Agricultural Investment Incentives to support high level private sector participation.

“While some of these incentives are in form of tax holiday, exemptions and reliefs, there are many that leverage on specific government policies, performances of companies as well as relevant international investment treaties”, he added.

However, some of the CEOs called on government to put in place mechanisms that would bring down high prices of maize and soya in the poultry industry as there is no hope the prices will fall in 2021 as far as feed production is concerned.

Also they asked government to look at the huge potential in irrigation following huge pool of water instead of allowing farmers depend on rainfall to produce food.
They also advised government on tackling issues of climate change that affects agriculture by coming up with useful research that would mitigate the effects in order to boost food production.

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