4.2m Nigerians Lifted out of Poverty in 2 Years- Minister of Agriculture

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar said the Federal Government has lifted a total of 4,205,576 Million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years. He said that it was achieved through the Ministry’s strategic policies and programmes and by extension the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 of the President Muhammadu Buhari led Government, which sees agriculture as the alternative to oil for meaningful economic diversification.

The Minister made this declaration today in Abuja during the Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the 2021 World Food Day with the Theme: Our Actions are our Future. Better production, Better nutrition, a Better environment and a Better life, Dr. Mahmood Abubakar stated that ‘’the ERGP envisage that investment in agriculture can guarantee food security, have the potential to be a major contributor to job creation, and will save foreign exchange required for food imports.

The Minister stated that  ” our various empowerment initiatives along production, processing and marketing of agricultural commodities we have lifted a total of 4,205,576 Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years. This is going to continue as part of Mr. Presidents promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.”.

Dr. Abubakar pointed out that ‘’ the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) and Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) are known to be the most recent, while the development of a successor policy termed National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP) covering 2021 – 2025 is now in progress’’.

He further said that ‘’ the ATA was built on the principle that agriculture is a serious business and should be supported. It focused on making Nigeria’s agriculture more productive, efficient and effective; creating jobs, generating foreign exchange and reduce food importation; while the APP was designed to address two main challenges – the inability to meet domestic food requirements, and an inability to export at levels required for market success. Like ATA, the APP also centred on food security, import substitution, job creation and economic diversification’’.

Abubakar noted that ‘’ the upcoming NATIP is developed to provide integrated approach to agricultural development in terms of access and application of improved inputs, linkages between agricultural research and training institutions, input provision for farmers, agricultural mechanization, Extension Services, provision of rural Infrastructure, access to affordable funding, Climate Change management and Sustainable agriculture, Nutrition, and security of Agricultural land and Investments’’.

He stated that ‘’ in the area of capacity building, a total of 2,205,576 farmers/youths/women were trained and empowered on different agricultural value chains. The exercise is still ongoing. Our Ministerial mandate to train and deploy 75,000 Agriculture Extension workers has reach an advanced stage’’.

He also said the ‘’ to increase provision of protein and nutrition to Nigerians, 150 nos. of Animals were inseminated and 10 nos. of pasture plots were established, while a total of 352 Crossbred Cattles were generated and being utilized by pastoralists. The resulting impact would be increased supply of meat to the population’’.

Abubakar added that ‘’ the National Accelerated Fish Production Programme a total of 783,102MT of Fish was cultivated via the exploration of marine resources in Deep Sea/Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the exploration of Inland water bodies by fish farmers/fishermen’’.

The Minister stated that ‘’to boost production, the Ministry partnered the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to ensure adequate domestic production and marketing of NPK fertilizers at affordable commercial rate and timely delivery to farmers’’.

According to him, ‘’ the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019 to provide regulatory framework aimed at guaranteeing the supply and distribution of quality fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers for food security has been launched’’, He added.

He emphasized that ‘’ the Ministry has supported the establishment of many value-addition processing companies under the APPEALS Programme. We now have an excess capacity in rice processing and the challenge is to increase paddy production and supply to the rice mills’’.

He stressed that ‘’ to improve access to farmland and evacuation of produce, we have constructed 393.45km of Ashpalt and 271.8km Earth road in rural areas along farm settlement routes thereby reducing the cost of transportation of agricultural commodities by 49% to demand/storage outlets’’.

He stated that ‘’ in our bid to engage the private sector in food supply chain, we have concessioned under-utilized Federal Government warehouses and storage facilities to private companies for optimal utilization. This action we believe will help reduce food waste occasioned by lack of proper agricultural logistics’’.

The Minister mentioned that ‘’ the Green Imperative programme which is expected to address the long standing agricultural mechanization problem is underway. The programme would ensure adequate supply of tractors and other implements to farmers on a public private partnership arrangement. The model adopted is sustainable and would ameliorate the low production challenge due to lack of sufficient machineries’’, he stated.

He assured that the Federal Government through the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) would address all the problems associated with our livestock production activities and guarantee adequate supply of quality meat for domestic consumption and export for foreign exchange earnings.

Dr. Abubakar expressed unalloyed appreciation to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and our development partners such as NAFN, Action Aid and other NGOs who have contributed immensely towards the success of this year’s World Food Day. He promised that  ‘’the Federal Government is committed to welcome, at all times, the support, collaboration and partnerships of all concerned stakeholders towards ensuring food and nutrition security for Nigerians and the world in general’’.

In his remarks, FAO Country Representative in Nigeria,  Mr. Fred Kafeero, said that   “everyone of us has a role to play in ending hunger by changing the way we produce, adding value to our food products, making food choices that improve our health; and by reducing wastage and loss of our food.”

 Mr. Kafeero stated the need for government to focus on targeted interventions on research and development to make farming more technologically advanced, innovation in digital agriculture and re-skilling young people and improving literacy rates among women. He added that other essential elements such as better data, governance and institutions needs to be included.