National Food Reserve To Increase To 219,900MT In 2022 ― Minister

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mahmood Abubakar has said that the current 109,657 metric tons national food reserve is expected to increase to 219,900 metric tons by the end of 2022.

The minister said this increment is expected following various intervention programs and policies of the present administration towards driving the agricultural sector.

Speaking at this year’s National Agricultural Show which is part of the activities of the World Food Day, Dr Abubakar said Nigeria has abundant rainfall, 230 billion cubic meters of surface and underground water that could support 84 million hectares of arable land, of which 40% is cultivated.

He said this endowment for agricultural production has immensely contributed to the growth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 5.01% in a consistent manner.

The Minister said as a result of the Federal Government’s policy initiatives and innovative funding in the sector, significant progress has been made to improve agricultural productivity since the inception of the present Administration.

“The Ministry this year alone has raised her national food reserve stock to 109,657 MT, a figure expected to be further increased to 219,900 MT by the end of 2022.

“Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), a component of President Buhari’s Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) targets five to ten Million jobs in the agricultural sector and provides zero-interest loans to farmers to lift Nigerians out of poverty.

“The first phase of the scheme has produced over 1.1 million beneficiaries across all states and the FCT.

“Out of the 5 million planned beneficiaries for AFJP, the 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”, Dr Abukakar noted.

He further stated that since the beginning of the 2021 farming season, the Ministry has distributed inputs to states across the country to boost food production.

“Nigeria recorded a boost in the production of her major staple crops especially, maize and rice production rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes (MMT).

“The same is obtainable for cassava with production increase from 58.47 MT in 2018 to 73.91MT and even projected to rise to 93.6 by 2023. Growth has also been recorded for groundnut, tomatoes, and sorghum production. Cattle beef, dairy and fish production also rose by 166%, 146% and 11% respectively between 2020 and 2021.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Bureau of Statistics report indicate that Nigeria’s National Agricultural Import Bill also reduced from N1.2 billion to N1.1 billion”, he added.

On his part, the Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Fred Kafeero said FAO is working with governments across the globe for the transformation of Agri-food systems to ensure that they are rooted in several agro-ecology focusing on sustainable natural resource management.

Kafeero, who was represented by Dr Guy Kouame, the Team lead of ECTAD, said in Nigeria, for 12 years now, FAO has been cooperating with the Federal Government of Nigeria by assisting it in planning and implementation of agricultural policies, strategies and programmes.

“FAO’s work in the country focuses on improving food and nutrition security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, thereby creating the impetus for economic growth in the agriculture and rural sector”, Kafeero said.

He said this is the occasion to sensitize the public on how everybody has a role to play in ending hunger by transforming the food systems through changing the way we produce, transform, consume and waste our food.

“Here is where agriculture shows like the one we are flagging off today together with other indicators for public awareness-raising are so important in getting these messages across.

“Through these shows, farmers learn the good agricultural practices and technologies that are necessary for improving their production, reducing post-harvest wastes, adding value and linking them up with markets.

“These shows should continue to help countries to promote more use of climate-smart and environmentally friendly agricultural practices that incorporate innovation and digitization to slow the habitat destruction that contributes to disease outbreaks and perennial flooding”, he added.

He said the show should also gear policy decisions towards transformative change based on data, scientific evidence and analysis and besides, work with the international community to close the digital gap and ensure that technology flows.

source tribuneonlineng.com

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