1.1M Smallholder Farmers to Benefit from FG’s Agric for Food and Job Scheme

 

The Federal Government of Nigeria today launched the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), which is a major take-off for the agriculture component of the Nigeria Economic and Sustainability Plan (NESP) targeting smallholder farmers.

This is expected to mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and livelihoods of farmers by creating more access to food and the rapid emergence of competitive food production, processing, and distribution in the country.

Speaking at the launch of the scheme in Funtau, Katsina State, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has set up an Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo to design a plan on COVID -19 intervention. He said the first batch of the initiative will immediately benefit 1.1 million smallholder farmers in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The project is being implemented by six partners including AFEX, BabanGona, Value Seeds, Universal, Thrive Agric, and Oxfam. The minister stated that the intervention aligns with the three-pronged action plan of the ministry to deal with the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian agriculture and farmers, adding that the strategies would generate appropriate welfare gains consistent with the federal government’s Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) and Green Alternative strategies.

Nanono added that the programme will aid the transformation of agriculture from its largely low yielding and subsistent state to a high yielding technology-based farming system.

According to the minister: “These measures include among others, the life-saving humanitarian assistance to vulnerable households to buffer the impact of COVID-19, such as the release of about 100,000 metric tons of assorted food commodities from the National Food Reserve to several groups and communities.”

In a statement issued by Ezeaja Ikemefuna of the information directorate of the ministry, Nanono said the plan will within 12 months lead to the “creation of between 5- 10 million jobs in the agric sector, produce about 10,000,000 MT of food, cultivate between 20,000 – 100,000 hectares of land per State based on land availability to an aggregate of 2.4 million farmers tied to farmlands, input financing loan to farmers will be zero interest, land clearing and preparation support, among others.”

By Kolawole Joseph

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