The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has said it will produce 31 million metric tons of assorted grains to combat food inflation and create jobs, thus reducing the high rate of poverty in the country.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, disclosed this at the opening session of a two-day 6th edition of Seed Connect Conference and Exhibition with the theme: Global Declaration of Food Emergency – The Role of the Seed Industry and Ensuring Africa’s Food and Nutrition Security’’, held at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.
He said the nation would be self-sufficient in food by producing 31 million metric tons of assorted grains such as rice, maize, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat in 2024.
Abdullahi noted that to achieve this, his ministry had already placed a premium on the certification of available planting material for some food crops in this year’s dry season farming, flagged off in Jigawa state on November 25, 2023.
In a statement by the Acting Director of Information of the ministry, Ezeaja Ikemefuna, the minister said the ministry was targeting over 70, 000 hectares for wheat production under a joined project between Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and National Agricultural Growth Scheme and AgroPocket Scheme (NAGS-AP), adding that the financial leverage for farmers will be focused on.
“Nigeria’s seed requirement/need for five major crops of Rice, Maize, Wheat, Soybeans, and Sorghum in 2024 is 312,555.69MT of seeds, which is expected to give almost 31million Mt of grains’’.
“The Ministry has outlined a series of critical pathways to solve the food security challenges. These pathways are streamlined into short-term, intermediate, and long-term actions’’, he said.
According to him, farmers are being supported with quality seeds for rice, maize, soybean, and other inputs at a subsidized rate, noting that ‘’pasture seeds development, fodder, and foliage estates that will gradually eliminate farmers and herders clashes, creation of gene banks facilities is also a short term intervention that the administration is pursuing’’.
He assured farmers of timely financial support, saying the take-off of the National Agricultural Development Fund was meant to support the production of critical agricultural infrastructure and provide financial leverage for farmers in the short term.
Abdullahi added that the Initiative would be supported by reforms in the Bank of Agriculture and Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) to meet the needs of its clientele using digital solutions, while the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) would be refocused to increase sensitization, surveillance and enforcement of its laws toward curbing infiltration of uncertified seeds that rob farmers of their value for money.
“The Nigeria Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) will be empowered to carry out its mandate through strategic reforms and budgeting attached to KPIs, which is in line with the administration’s goal’’, he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Acting Director General of NASC, Dr. Ishiak Khalid, said that ‘’this year’s event has been dedicated to the Global Declaration of Food Emergency and the role of Africa’s Seed Sector in creating a sustainable food system to ensure access to nutritious and affordable food both now, and in the future’’.
Dr. Khalid noted that NASC would be convening a national seed planning meeting to bring stakeholders together to plan for the 2024 planting season and how to achieve the national seed requirement.
“In terms of inclusivity, NASC is leveraging on the use of Licensed Seed inspectors to achieve low-level certification efficiently.’’
“The target of Mr. President in making quality seed available to farmers is a drive the Seed Council is following through by deploying all arsenals for efficient seed certification, surveillance, and mopping out adulterated seeds. Not leaving outbuilding of industry capacity for especially with the NASC membership of the OECD’’, he affirmed.
Also in a remark, the Netherland’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Wouter Plomp, stated that ‘’ the Netherlands – Nigeria Seed Partnership – a model of collaboration built on knowledge exchange and mutual, has been instrumental in advancing Nigeria’s seed sector, fostering the exchange of expertise, technology and best practices’’.
The WikkiTimes understand that present at the opening session were representative’s drawn from the Ministry’s Development Partners: United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), World Bank, Syngenta Foundation, among others