Agriculture: Nigerian Government sets aside 320 hectares of land

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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The Nigerian government says it has cleared 320 hectares of land for agricultural programmes in some states across the country.

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo stated this on Monday at the opening of a two-day Mid-term Ministerial Performance Review Retreat holding that the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Prof. Osinbajo, who made a presentation on the Economic Sustainability Plan, ESP, said the states were Kwara, Plateau, Cross River, Edo, Kaduna, Ekiti and Osun adding that 40 hectares were cleared in each of the states.

According to the Vice President, this is part of the Agriculture for food and jobs plans of President Muhammdu Buhari’s N2.3trillion Economic Sustainability Plan.

He said that the states involved were those that require land clearing, while those that do not need land clearing would be supported directly.

Crop Value Chain

Prof. Osinbajo said that “447 billion naira is allocated as loans to farmers across 14 crop value chains be it production, aqua culture and poultry farming.”

He pointed out that “Only N14billion has been disbursed to commercial banks and even this sum is yet to be utilized by farmers due to the late release for the 2021 wet farming season.”

Farmers’ Enumeration

The Vice President said that part of the government’s agricultural programme was the enumeration of farmers, disclosing that 6.39million farmers have been enumerated and their lands tagged.

“So, we have an accurate record, verified by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, of 6.39million farmers with their lands duly tagged. 

“We know where their farms are and we know where their lands are. 

“So far, we 363million passed the first stage of validation and another 2.47million passed the 2nd stage of validation.  We are validating them also for Bank Verification Number (BVN). Those who do not have BVNs are getting BVNs.” 

Prof. Osinbajo also said that the enumeration of farmers and the validation of their BVN have also helped in paying fertilizer subsidies directly to farmers.

COVID-19

The Vice President said that the COVID-19 shocked the Nigerian economy, which was looking very good at the end of 2019 and had four quarters of consecutive GDP growth with all the macro-economic fundamentals looking excellent.

“Our GDP contracted to –6 .10% during the 2nd quarter of 2020; oil price at one point fell even below production cost, about $10 dpb and finally settled to $45dpb. 

“The official rate of the naira was devalued from N305 to the dollar to N380 to the dollar by the 3rd quarter of 2020.  Unemployment came up to 33%.

“There were declines in several sectors. The transportation sector declined by 49%; hospitality fell by 40%; education sector fell by 24%; real estate declined by 22%; trade declined by 17% and construction sector declined by 40%. 

“So, we were in a terrible economic situation, brought upon us by the pandemic.  I think it is very important to put in context just the enormity of the shocks that we experienced from the pandemic because even a 5% decline in any sector is significant.” 

He said the government responded through the Economic Sustainability Plan, to provide at least a 12-month response to the fallout of the pandemic.

Osinbajo said that the objectives of the plan were to save jobs; create new ones; support businesses that were closed down during the lockdowns, and provide healthcare support to reduce the covid-19 case load.

Resilient Health System

Vice President Osinbajo said that a major component of the plan was to build a resilient health system, pointing out that the funds allocated to the health sector remain a critical objective of the plan as the pandemic is still raging.

The funds allocated to the health sector were for surveillance and epidemiology, establishing laboratories, point of entry management, infection prevention and control, health management, health-related communications, research and development.

“After full implementation, what we expect to see—although already we’ve seen several of these—15 federal tertiary health institutions, the availability of PPAs in all federal health institutions, 520 ICU beds, 52 isolation wards, with 1040 beds, 52 molecular laboratories to carry out, on the average, 150 PCR tests every day.”  

He added that the states were also building up their own capacity in this regard.

Vaccination 

On the administration of vaccines across Nigeria, the Vice President said that as at 28 September 2021, 4.8million people or 4.3% of the eligible population have received the first dose of the vaccine; while 1.9million people or 1.8% of the eligible population has received the 2nd dose.

He also spoke on the MSMEs Survival Fund, designed by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, to safeguard and create jobs.

Osinbajo said that the components of the scheme, including the guaranteed off-take scheme, the payroll support scheme, the artisan and transport support scheme, the general MSMEs grant and the formalization of companies support scheme, have supported 1,1 million persons and businesses so far.

President of the African Development Bank, AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina said called on African countries to develop their capacity to produce vaccines

Adesina also challenged the government to take bold policy measures to drive the structural transformation of agriculture.

PIAK

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