As the global community gears up to mark 2020 World Food Day, the Nigerian government while highlighting its major breakthrough in the Agricultural sector, has stated that Nigeria is now the largest producer of rice in Africa.
Speaking to newsmen in a briefing towards the celebration of World Food Day on Tuesday, October 13, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono also added that the county is set to ban milk importation in the next two years.
Nanono said that the government has made enough provision of cows which will help enhance the plan for the ban on milk importation.
While addressing newsmen, he also said that the agric ministry has raised her national food reserve stock to 109,657 a figure expected to be further increased to 219,900 MT by the end of 2020.
Speaking on its empowerment programme, the minister noted that the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), a component of President Buhari’s Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) has empowered 1,138,000 farmer-beneficiaries across the 36 states and the FCT under the first phase of implementation.
Nanono said, ‘’To boost food security, Nigeria has curbed imports and has established a robust rice production programme to encourage more rice production at home.
‘’ Efforts in this direction are starting to show results as Nigeria is now Africa’s largest producer of Rice. The country is also the largest producer of cassava in the world.
‘’A range of policies and initiatives to strengthen the rice and cassava value chains have been put in place. The economic potentials of both livestock and fisheries are also being harnessed and respective value chains selected and targeted for development.
‘’In an attempt to diversify the economy, Federal Government has continued with its renewed focus on the agricultural sector. The government has deepened the culture with the Anchor Borrowers programme initiative and ban on the importation of some agro-commodities.’’
The minister who spoke on how Nigeria has been fighting food insecurity in the COVID-19 pandemic said, that a seven-member Joint Technical Task Team on emergency response to COVID-19 was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari , which helped to facilitate the free and unhindered movement of farmers, food, livestock and agricultural inputs across the country during the lockdown and over 70,000 MT of grains were released to vulnerable Nigerians to cushion the effects of the pandemic.
In 2020 so far, Nanono stated that a Special Committee was set up by the Ministry to act on the emerging flood issues and come up with strategies to minimize its effects on agricultural production in order to avert food crisis and ensure sustainable food security for the nation.
The Ministry also distributed inputs in states across the country to boost food production.
According to the data from the Ministry, maize and rice production rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes (MMT) respectively last year, while cassava production increased from 58.47 MMT in 2018 to 73.91 – and even projected to rise to 93.6 by 2023.
‘’Growth has also been recorded for groundnut, tomatoes, and sorghum production. Cattle beef, milk and fish production also rose by 166%, 146% and 11% respectively between 2018 and 2019. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Bureau of Statistics report indicates that Nigeria’s National Agricultural Import Bill also reduced from 1.2 to 1.1 billion Naira.
‘’Also, the Federal Government through the Agro Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support project (APPEALS) has set aside N600 billion as loan support to farmers across the country.
‘’No fewer than 2.4 million farmers are expected to benefit from the loan which has zero interest. The gesture will support farmers in the country to improve their productivity aimed at boosting the country’s agricultural sector. The support was to complement the Federal Government policy on agriculture, which include promoting food security, improving farmers production and also increasing exportation. The participating States include Kano, Kaduna, Cross Rivers, Enugu, Lagos and Kogi,’’ said the minister.
Daily Times reports that the World Food Day is celebrated annually around the world on 16thOctober in and the theme of this year is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our actions are our future”.