From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The federal government has revealed that, if not for the assistance of smallholder farmers, Nigeria would have been thrown into famine as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, explained that smallholder farmers consistently operated on little but very significant plots of land for which they toil all year round producing basic food, cash crops and contribute over 80% to Nigeria’s national food supply.
Shehuri made the revelation during the roll-out ceremony of the distribution of certified rice seeds – faro 44 (24MT), maize foundation seed (15MT), cashew nuts (1,5MT) groundnut foundation (2.5MT), cashew seeds (1.5MT), castor foundation (1MT), 3HP irrigation water pumps – recently at the Ministry’s office complex in Maiduguri, Borno State.
According to him, the federal government would continue to support them as well as the physically challenged farmers in Borno State in a bid to boost agricultural production across the country
In a statement by the Ministry’s Chief Information Officer, Ezeaja Ikemefuna, Shehuri added that the farmers would play a major role in ensuring food security and towards averting food scarcity in the 2021 dry season farming which is on-going.
‘President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that smallholder farmers must be supported with seeds, agrochemicals and small agro equipment to rekindle their hope and accelerate their recovery process from the economic loss suffered during the period of the pandemic,’ he said.
‘Extension Services have been rejigged to serve farmers so that there is seamless and unbroken food supply chain across the country. These efforts had since paid off as our food requirement is mostly produced locally with little or no consideration for food imports since COVID-19 set in.’
He reiterated the commitment of the Ministry towards making the country self-sufficient in food production through appropriate and timely inputs distribution which are available to farmers on the subsidy that ranges from 50% to 100%.
Meanwhile, Borno State Governor, Babgana Zulum, represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof Isa Hussein, appealed to the farmers to make judicious use of the Inputs strictly for farming and not to sale the agricultural inputs.