The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has inaugurated the distribution of palliative incentives to farmers in Calabar, Cross River.
The minister in a statement by the Director of Information, Mr Theodore Ogaziechi, in Abuja on Thursday, said the exercise was in continuation of Federal Government’s support to farmers.
“With COVID-19, the priority of every country is to ensure limited disruption to its food supply chains. A number of countries have banned or drastically reduced food exports to avoid scarcity of food.
“Since smallholder farmers are the most vulnerable, it becomes imperative for government to support them with the much-needed inputs especially seeds.
“Seed is the most important factor that influences farmers’ yield, enabling them to recover quickly from the set back of the Pandemic.”
“Distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers including cocoa seedlings, improved oil palm, sprouted nuts and cashew seeds are part of the Federal Government interventions.
“This is to reduce effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and avert food scarcity in 2021.”
The minister noted that the ministry and its research institutions were working toward making Nigeria self-sufficient in quality seeds.
He further noted that the ministry was working towards availability of seeds to farmers, to attain food and nutrition security as well as industrialisation.
Nanono further noted that “ the ministry is supporting breeder and foundation seeds production and linking up with the private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers.
“This coupled with our efforts to improve rural infrastructure and other value-chains supports which will invariably contribute to ensuring easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians.
“The ministry will support the oil palm farmers with 5,000 improved oil palm sprouted nuts and 1,500 kg improved cashew seeds.
“Also, cocoa farmers will be supported with 20,000 seedlings and agrochemicals. In addition, rice farmers will be supported with 1,000 kg of rice seeds,’’ he said.
The minister noted that the event was the fifth in the series of the distribution of incentives to farmers nationwide.
“The most recent being in Kogi where the ministry collaborated with Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, to start distribution of Soybean, sesame seeds, cashews and potatoes as well as fertilizers.
“At least 35 per cent of the inputs are targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Action Plan and Policies.
”This is aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly,” he said.
The minister urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the inputs to produce food for the nation.
He urged state governments and other stakeholders to provide similar support to farmers “so that together we can defeat COVID-19 and become self-sufficient in food production’’.
He acknowledged the cooperation and support from Development Partners like OCP Africa Limited and International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
The Governor of Cross Rivers, Prof. Ben Ayade, said the state government had laid a foundation for agricultural empowerment.
He added that the empowerment would lead to job creation and economic development.
Director-General, National Centre for Woman Development, Mary Ekpere-Eta, stated that the centre would commence ICT training for 100 Women farmers.
Ekpere-Eta added that the policy would ensure that women acquired basic technology for their farming business.
Stakeholders in their goodwill messages commended the ministry for its proactive steps to reach out to smallholder farmers in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic
The goodwill messages were delivered at the event by the Cocoa Farmers Association, National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria, Cashew Farmers Association and the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry and Wildfire Resources Management, University of Calabar.