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HomeEntertainment NewsFrom Agriculture To Food Security – Independent Newspaper Nigeria

From Agriculture To Food Security – Independent Newspaper Nigeria

It’s a given that powerful vi­sions attract ideas, people and other relevant resourc­es. They create the momen­tum and will to actualise chang­es. They inspire individuals, complementary organisations and institutions to commit, to persist and to give their best. Keying into this enduring philo­sophical template, unassuming President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has deployed impeccable savoir-faire, discipline and persistence to trigger a change in the tradi­tional narrative of governance in Nigeria.

Just a year in the saddle, Pres­ident Tinubu’s deployment of a laser-like focus on his eight-point agenda has significantly impact­ed his challenging governance trajectory and shaped his accom­plishments in the past year. This is vintage Tinubu.

It would be pertinent to recall the President’s sweeping 8-Point Renewed Hope Agenda with which he set sail, to enable a fair assessment of his governance impact. This includes: Reform­ing the Economy for Inclusive Growth; Strengthening National Security; Boosting Agriculture for Food Security; Unlocking Energy and Natural Resources; Enhancing Infrastructure and Transportation; Focusing on Education, Health, and Social Investment; Accelerating Diver­sification through Industrialisa­tion, Digitisation, Creative Arts, Manufacturing, and Innovation; and Improving Governance for Effective Service Delivery.

Of interest here is his agenda for agriculture. In his agricultur­al agenda, President Tinubu is in good company with the think­ing of America’s third president, diplomat and philosopher, Thom­as Jefferson. According to Jeffer­son, “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.”

It is of course needless to stress further that agriculture is a critical enabler of the develop­ment of any society. Despite the palpable challenges, President Tinubu brings vision, knowl­edge and courage to sustain the imperative cutting-edge leader­ship which has headed off chaos in this crucial sector.

As it were, activities in the agricultural sector by the Tinu­bu-led federal government, par­ticularly in the harvest of crops led to the injection of N309bn into the Nigerian economy in the past year. This is huge. Going for broke, Nigeria is currently work­ing in partnership with Brazil to provide agriculture mechanisa­tion hubs across the federation, with about ₦1.6bn (€995,000) be­ing used for this.

This insight was provided by the inimitable Minister of Agri­culture and Food Security, Abu­bakar Kyari, at the ministerial briefing in Abuja while speaking on the grounds covered in the ag­riculture sector since President Tinubu assumed office on May 29, 2024. According to Kyari, the federal government launched the dry season farming programme with the cultivation of 118,657 hectares of wheat in 15 states to accelerate all-year-round farm­ing. His words: “The ministry supported 107,429 wheat farm­ers with inputs resulting in output of 474,628 metric tonnes. The estimated value of N309bn was injected into the economy. The support that was given, as we all know, was a 50 per cent subsidy on all inputs including fertilisers, agrochemicals, that is herbicides and insecticides, as well as seeds, and this was free of charge.”

He also revealed that the fed­eral administration also import­ed 6,750 seeds, tonnes of wheat from Mexico, and also got about 5,500 seeds procured and sourced locally. The minister then made the most important revelation that the harvest realised would have an estimated value of about N309bn that is injected into the economy.

Following a presidential di­rective, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security released 42,000 metric tonnes of assorted food commodities from the federal government’s strate­gic grain reserves to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, for distribution to Nige­rians who were in distress.

His words: “We procured and distributed to all states and the Federal Capital Territory 58,500 metric tonnes of milled rice to dampen escalating prices. There is the fortification of crops with Vitamin A micro-nutrient to en­rich nutrition content and health value of food commodities.”

Turning his gunsights on the persistent food inflation, Presi­dent Tinubu deployed specific measures to boost production and cage the unsettling situation.

According to the agriculture minister, some of these inter­ventionist measures included the – Distribution of 60,432MT of improved seeds, 887,255MT seed­lings, 138 value kits, 501,726 litres of agrochemicals, 62,328.5MT of inorganic fertilizers, 1,000kg fun­gicide, and 33,200 equipment to farmers across different value chains to enhance production. The ministry also received 2.15 million bags of fertilizer from the Central Bank of Nigeria for distribution to farmers free of charge. There was an improve­ment in farmland security with the provision of additional re­sources to Agro Rangers and other security agencies.

The other crucial dimension of food security is livestock production and animal health, which the minister said his min­istry procured and distributed 14,056,467 doses of anthrax spore, foot and mouth diseases vac­cines for risk-based vaccination exercises in 22 high-risk states located in the North-Central, North-West, North-East, South- West and South-South zones of the country.

His words: “In the pilot phase, we handed over to 15 state govern­ments 760 tonnes of poultry feed and 70 tonnes of ruminant feed for distribution to smallholder farmers and the implementation of National Livestock Develop­ment Plan on the promotion of grazing reserves and ranching nationwide.”

As agricultural mechanisation is at the heart of the modern ap­proach to upscaling production, the minister revealed that the federal government had signed a Memorandum of Understand­ing with John Deere and Tata Africa to assemble in-country and supply 10,000 tractors with implements and accessories at 2,000 units yearly, as well as 100 units of combine harvesters to support agriculture production.

According to him, “We have a partnership with the Brazilian government with the sum of 995,000 Euros to provide mech­anisation hubs across the feder­ation. There is also the facilita­tion of supply of 2,000 Belarus tractors and the Greener Hope Mechanisation Services are also on course.”

It could be recalled that speak­ing at the opening of the 6th Afri­ca-Wide Agricultural Extension Week (AAEW), themed: “Har­nessing Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services in Scal­ing Regenerative Agriculture and Nature-Based Solutions for Food System Transformation in Africa,” President Tinubu prom­ised a new era in the country’s agricultural sector.

He firmly vowed that it would no longer be business as usual as his administration seeks to boost food security as well as diversify the economy from over-reliance on petroleum. According to the president, going forward, agri­culture must now be market-ori­ented, and move away from the subsistence farming culture cur­rently practiced by smallholder farmers. For development-hun­gry Nigerians, this is sweet music as they are witnessing a change from rhetoric to action.

Within the period under re­view, the federal government has also come up with programmes including the National Agricul­ture Growth Scheme-Agro-pock­et, where millions of farmers are supported through training on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), certified inputs such as improved seeds and organic and inorganic fertilizers and irriga­tion equipment at highly sub­sidised prices to enhance their production, increase productivi­ty and ultimately higher incomes to farmers.

What’s more, the president confirmed that agricultural ex­tension plays a critical role in bringing relevant and improved technologies developed by Na­tional Agricultural Research In­stitutions (NARIs), inputs sup­pliers and marketers to farmers. To strengthen agro-extension delivery services in the country, the Federal Ministry of Agricul­ture and Food Security has put together the first-ever Harmon­ised Extension Manual in Nige­ria and the National Agricultural Extension Policy.

The icing on the cake is that as the administration’s consid­erable investments in enhancing security across the nation begin to post concrete yields, this will positively impact agricultural productivity far more going into the President’s second year in office.

…Chukwuma is an Enugu-based invest­ment banker

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