By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, Thursday, expressed hope over three steering committees to tackle high food prices in the country and also boost food production and create jobs.
Abubakar stated that this in his address during inauguration of the three steering committees, which includes Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS), and Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase-One (ATASP-1).
He explained that the inauguration is a significant milestone in the implementation of Development Partner Support Projects in the agricultural sector.
The RAAMP, APPEALS and ATASP-1 are funded by the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) respectively.
He said: “I consider today’s occasion, a very important one as we will be killing two birds with one stone thus; the inauguration and meeting of the National Steering Committee members to deliberate on the Annual Work Plan and Budget of the 5no projects in the Ministry.
“I am optimistic, with the caliber of men and women we have in the various committees.
“We are today going to witness the inauguration of the three Donor assisted projects, namely; Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS), and Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase-One (ATASP-1)).
“It is pertinent to mention that the collaboration and partnership existing between the donor assisted projects have yielded a remarkable result in the development of Agri-business hubs in Nigeria.
“This is so significant in the area of provision of food security, job creation, youth empowerment, rural development and generally economic diversification especially now that the country is facing and unprecedented high cost of food items.”
Meanwhile, according to him, the policy and institutional framework of all the projects are in line with the core mandates of the Ministry which include; Food Security, Job Creation, Import substitution and Economic diversification.
He also expressed optimism that the inauguration marks a significant milestone in the implementation of Development Partner Support Projects in the agricultural sector.
And he (Abubakar) noted that, “Over the years, Projects have been without Steering Committees making it, difficult to effectively tract their performance
“Especially, the approval and monitoring of Annual Work plan and Budget (AWPB), which is the core responsibility of the Steering Committee as contained in the Project Appraisal Document of all the Projects.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, who was represented by the Director, Agricultural Management and Climate Change, Mr Shehu Bello, said members of the committees were expected to assist in addressing the challenges bedeviling the projects.
Umakhihe said that members were also consider and approve the Annual Work-Plan and Budget (AWPB) as well as support on policy matters and general oversight of the projects amongst others.
“This idea will encourage large scale mechanised agricultural production, small holder farmers along the value chain of Production, Processing and Marketing”, he said.