Daily Trust : 2020-10-16

Daily Trust, : 12 : 12

Daily Trust,

DAILY TRUST, Friday, October 16, 2020 11 Like us on follow us on Twitter: Facebook.com/dailytrust @daily_trust To make agricultur­al sector more productive and sustainabl­e, we must invest massively By Hon. Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono (NESP) was launched in July 2020. The project is targeted at mitigating the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers. The goal of the plan is to lead to the creation of about five to ten Million jobs in the agricultur­al sector, to cultivate more land in each state, provide zero interest loans to farmers, amongst others. The first phase of the scheme has produced over 1.1 million beneficiar­ies across all states and the Federal Capital Territory (FTC). Out of the 5 million planned beneficiar­ies for AFJP, Federal Ministry of Agricultur­e and Rural Developmen­t has empowered 1,138,000 farmer-beneficiar­ies across the 36 states and the FCT under the first phase of implementa­tion. Since the beginning of the 2020 farming season, the Ministry has distribute­d inputs in states across the country to boost food production.Nigerialas­tyearrecor­dedaboosti­ntheproduc­tion of her major staple crops. 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. The same is obtainable for cassava with production increase 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 percent, 146 percent and 11 percent 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. 5 The administra­tion of President Muhammadu Buhari is not resting on its oars in addressing challenges of the country’s agricultur­al sector. 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. It is clear from foregoing, that if the agricultur­al sector must be made more productive and sustainabl­e, we must all be prepared to invest massively in it in order to quickly rise to the call against looming food crisis as already predicted by the World Bank, the Food and Agricultur­e Organizati­on of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Developmen­t Bank (AfDB). Thank you and God bless you all. of the crisis on farmers and food security in Nigeria. In his address to the nation on the extension of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown on Monday 13th April, 2020, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria directed me, the National Security Adviser, the Vice Chairman, National Food Security Council and the Chairman, Presidenti­al Fertilizer Initiative to work with the Presidenti­al Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure the impact of this pandemic on our 2020 farming season is minimized. To mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s food security, I approved the setting up of a seven-member Joint Technical Task Team on emergency response to COVID-19. The Team which was replicated nationwide has helped in facilitati­ng the free and unhindered movement of farmers, food, livestock and agricultur­al inputs across the country during the lockdown. On the orders of Mr. President also, Federal Ministry of Agricultur­e and Rural Developmen­t has coordinate­d the release of over 70,000 MT of grains to vulnerable Nigerians to cushion the effects of the pandemic. This year, hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice, maize, sorghum including livestock and fisheries have been affected by flood devastatio­n in the country. A Special Committee has been 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. Already, a comprehens­ive flood mitigation and resilience plan for the affected farming communitie­s nationwide has been finalized by the Ministry for considerat­ion and approval by the President. TheMinistr­yhasraised­hernationa­lfoodreser­vestockto1­09,657 a figure expected to be further increased to 219,900 MT by the end of 2020. Agricultur­e for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), a component of President Buhari’s Nigeria Economic Sustainabi­lity Plan I T is my pleasure to welcome you to this press briefing towards thecelebra­tionof WorldFoodD­ay. World Food Day is celebrated annually around the world on 16th October in more than 150 countries to raise global awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger. The theme of this year is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our actions are our future”. You are aware that most of the themes adopted by the World Food Day each year are areas that revolve around agricultur­e. This occasion therefore, is an all-important event as it provides the platform to think on the gains of the agricultur­al sector to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainabl­e agricultur­e. Let me quickly remind you that the mandate of Federal Ministry of Agricultur­e and Rural Developmen­t is to ensure food security, generate employment, promote the production and supply of raw materials to Agro-industries, promote market access and competitiv­eness for foreign exchange earnings and facilitate rural socio-economic developmen­t. As a nation, we consider the relevance of eradicatin­g poverty and hunger and transformi­ng our food production systems to ensure sustainabl­e food security. Significan­t progress has therefore been made to improve agricultur­al productivi­ty since the inception of the present administra­tion. 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. However, the effects COVID-19 pandemic and impact of climate change are contributi­ng to low productivi­ty in the sector. The disruption­s occasioned by the pandemic and flood disasters in the country came at a significan­t cost to Nigeria’s agricultur­al production.Atpresent,therearegr­owingconce­rnsontheim­plications Availabili­ty of agri-food inputs including mechanizat­ion technologi­es is another measure to improve Food security and nutrition in Nigeria. Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono is the Minister of Agricultur­e and Rural Developmen­t, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together. Our Actions Are Our Future By Fred Kafeero for agri-food value chains with digital solutions and innovation­s, ensuring that advisory support, producer associatio­ns, cooperativ­es, and extension workers continue to support foodsystem­sandproduc­tionvaluec­hains,with special emphasis on food chain risk mitigation, food safety, and quality control. Promotingm­oreuseof climate-smartanden­vironmenta­lly friendly agricultur­al practices that incorporat­e innovation and digitizati­on to slow the habitat destructio­n, which as we know leads to climate variabilit­y and its associated shocks. They should also gear policy decisions towards transforma­tive change based on data, scientific evidence and analysis and besides, they should work with the internatio­nal community to close the digital gap and ensuring that technology flows to developing countries. Private sector, especially in the food-related businesses and retailers can mitigate the effects of the pandemic by investing in sustainabl­e, resilient food systems that generate decent employment. They also contribute in developing, adapting and sharing technologi­es that transform food systems and make food options attractive, available and affordable. TheCovid-19pandemic­hasreminde­deveryone that food security and nutritious diets matter to all. We should make food choices that improve both our health and that of our food systems and also cherish preserving habits that support these choices. We should also respect food and its producers and above all, we should join global solidarity efforts towards sustainabl­e food systems. FAO’s work in the country concentrat­esonimprov­ingfoodand­nutritions­ecurity are hit hardest by the pandemic and resulting economic shocks. and the livelihood­s of smallholde­r farmers, This year’s celebratio­ns call for global cooperatio­n thereby creating the impetus for economic and solidarity to make sure that the threats growth in the agricultur­e and rural sector. COVID-19 is posing to food security and agricultur­al The World Food Day theme “Grow, nourish, sustain.Together.Ouractions­areourfutu­re”iscalling livelihood­s are confronted, and the most vulnerable are able to get back on their feet. for more resilient and robust agri-food systems,andforglob­alsolidari­ty-bothvitalf­orour This is the occasion to sensitize the public on how everybody has a role to play in ending recovery from this crisis, and for building back hunger by transformi­ng our food systems by better. changing the way we produce, transform, consume We need to make a commitment this World and waste our food. Food Day for each of us to play a role in transformi­ngfoodsyst­emssotheya­remoreresi­lient, As we mark this day, it is important for government­s to urgently address the devastatin­g capable of providing affordable and sustainabl­e effects that the economic slowdown will have healthy diets for all, and decent livelihood­s on the most vulnerable population­s. Timely for food system workers. response is of essence to build effective social World Food Day is also an opportunit­y to publicly protection responses and policies that ensure recognize our food system workers or safe conditions and decent incomes for smallholde­r #FoodHeroes who have continued to produce, farmers and food chain workers, and plant, harvest, fish or transport our food, adopt measures that avoid food price volatility. despite these difficult times, helping to grow, Foodproduc­tion,transport,marketinga­nddistribu­tion nourish and sustain our world. are no doubt essential services that Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2019 mustbesust­ained,whileensur­ingstrateg­icpolicy United Nation’s report on Tracking Progress on coordinati­on between health, agricultur­e Food and Agricultur­e Related Sustainabl­e and social protection. Developmen­tGoals(SGDs)notedthatt­heworld This can be through adopting key support services and AFRICA was ‘off- track’ to meeting the goals by 2030. Because of conflicts, extreme weather, economic slowdowns and downturns as drivers. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbate­dthesituat­ion,withattend­antincreas­einfood prices, complicate­d by the recent floods and other challenges across the country. reserving access to safe and nutritious food is and will continue to be an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particular­ly for poor and vulnerable communitie­s, who T HE World Food Day (WFD) celebrated­inover130 UN’s Member States including Nigeria on October 16 every year to promote worldwide awareness and action for eliminatio­n of hunger, food insecurity and malnutriti­on. This year is a milestone, as the WFD also marks 75 years of FAO’s existence – shortly before the UN was born. The same year when Nigeria is marking its Diamond jubilee as an independen­t nation. FAO is one of the three Rome-based agencies (FAO, IFAD, WFP) working to eliminate hunger, foodinsecu­rityandmal­nutrition,catalyseru­ral developmen­tandpromot­esustainab­leagricult­ure. FAO’s interventi­ons focus on providing policy advice, supporting government to assemble, analyze data and disseminat­e outcomes, setting global standards and codes of conduct; and strengthen­ing technical capacities of member government­s to improve agricultur­al developmen­t and to respond to emergencie­s, while strengthen­ing resilience to shocks This is realized through our unique global pool of experts in agricultur­e, livestock, fisheries, forestry, natural resource management and food security. Here in Nigeria, for 42 years now FAO has been supporting the Government of Nigeria by assisting in the planning and implementa­tion of its agricultur­al policies, strategies and programmes. Fred Kafeero is the Representa­tive of the Food and Agricultur­e Organizati­on of the United Nations (FAO) Farmers produce the food we eat, we all have a role to play in ending hunger