One year of concerted efforts towards food security.

By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.

Ambitious efforts towards achieving food security by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security were kickstarted in November last year, with the cultivation of 118,657 hectares of wheat in 15 states, in a move to instill and accelerate all year round farming. About 107,429 wheat farmers were supported with inputs. This has so far resulted in a harvest output of 474,628 metric tonnes of wheat. Another 2,775 farmers across 109 crop production clusters across the Senatorial districts of the country have been empowered with key agricultural production inputs and supplies, including power tillers, knapsack sprayers, herbicides, organic fertilisers, and over 5000 metric tonnes of seeds. In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Budget and Planning, 1,110 small holder poultry farmers across the six geo-political zones of the country were successfully trained and empowered. They were trained and empowered with modern broiler rearing technologies to stimulate their interest and growth in broiler production. Within the same period, about 100,000 metric tonnes of milled rice and other assorted food commodities were released to NEMA, via a President directive, to help cushion the effects of inflation.

As a direct response to curbing food inflation, 60,432 metric tonnes of improved seeds, 887,255 metric tonnes of seedlings, and 501,726 litres of agro-chemicals were distributed to farmers across the different value chains to enhance and multiply production. 62,328 metric tonnes of inorganic fertilizer were also distributed. The Agric Ministry also received 2.15 million bags of fertiliser from the CBN which is being distributed to farmers across the States of the federation.

For the enhancement and safe-guarding of animal health and livestock production, 14,056,467 doses of anthrax spore, foot and mouth diseases vaccines in 22 High risk states, were procured and distributed. Fodder and pasture production is being pursued with the distribution of 130 residue crushers, and the development of over 1,800 hectares of pastures across the States. 760 tonnes of Poultry feed were handed over to 15 states for onward distribution to small holder farmers. The National Livestock Development Plan is rigorously being pursued for the promotion of grazing reserves nationwide. More states are keying in, realising the significance and benefits of this programme that has been in the pipeline, but hasn’t seen the light of day. Aggressive efforts were made by the National Agric Development Fund, to tackle ginger blight in the affected States of Kaduna and Plateau. Pesticides amd fungicides were distributed, along with improved seedlings, as well as farm inputs. Aerial control operations of 1,030 flight hours with pesticides, were conducted over the frontline states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe. Tomato ebola was also tackled with the same energy and promptness.

To strengthen mechanised farming, 10,000 tractors with implements and accessories are being supplied by John Deere, along with 100 combined harvesters. 2000 units of the tractors are to be supplied yearly and assembled in Nigeria. The Agric Ministry is partnering with the Brazilian government, with a funding of 995,000 euros, to provide mechanisation hubs across the federation. 2000 tractors are well on their way from Belarus to further bolster the numbers from the John Deere production. Locally, fabrication of equipments like harvesters, planters, and ploughs are being pursued by agencies in the Agric Ministry. Agricultural research activities are also being bolstered with the development of 23 crop varieties by the National Agricultural Research Institute, which are to be certified and released by the national varietal release committee.

Various extension services, including e-extension services are being implemented. So far, 20,755 farmers have been trained and empowered on agri-business, with about 3,350 extension agents trained across the States. Rural infrastructure that would help in the transportation and distribution of agric produce in select areas are being built. 77.8 kilometres of asphalt roads, and 130.9 kilometres of earthen roads, are being constructed. 102 motorised and solar powered boreholes are being built to provide water supply for all year round farming activities. 6,504 solar street lights are being provided in those communities. Water harvesting structures and small earth dams were constructed and rehabilitated across the country. Farmers were again trained on soil and water conservation systems for sustainable agricultural production in these locations.

Youths are being drafted into Agriculture through various empowerment programmes by Vocational Training schools in the various Colleges of Agriculture, for relevant skills acquisition. Their capacities are being built across the value chain with the provision of start up skills and kits/ components through these adopted schools and villages. So much is being done to improve our food productivity, as well as its affordability to the common man. Some economic policies have made it tougher to achieve this, but nonetheless, the well co-ordinated short term and long term programmes of the ministry, under the prudent leadership of Sen. Abu Kyari, and his counterpart, Alh. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, are well positioned to deliver on Mr. President’s renewed hope agenda on food security.

Tahir is Talban Bauchi.

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