The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, has flagged-off the distribution of agricultural inputs to Nigerian farmers, a statement said on Monday

The statement signed by the ministry’s spokesperson, Ikemefuna Ezeajaa, said the exercise serves to boost agricultural production in the country and avert food scarcity in 2021.

The inputs distributed to the smallholder farmers include varieties of rice, maize, and wheat seeds including palm seedlings, he said.

According to the statement, rice farmers association, cowpea farmers association, women and youth farmers association are the beneficiaries of the inputs.

Nigeria had restricted food importation as it strives to produce more of the food it consumes.

The country shut its borders, largely to prevent the importation and smuggling of items such as rice, poultry products, and petrol.

The Nigerian borders remain shut, but smuggling is still rife with the connivance of corrupt security officials.

President Muhammadu Buhari had instructed Mr. Nanono to work with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to ensure agricultural services were not disrupted by the restriction of movement, in order to prevent a food crisis.

The National Agricultural Seed Council of Nigeria (NASC) had in May said it had certified 81,000 metric tonnes of assorted seeds for farmers across the country.

Recently, President Buhari also advised Nigerian farmers to increase food production as the country has “no money for food importation”.

Speaking during the flag-off in Kaduna State, Mr. Nanono reportedly said the federal government would continue to support farmers with relevant inputs through associations and cooperatives to “ensure the country does not experience food shortages as a result of the pandemic”.

He said “rice farmers through the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria will receive support worth about 270Metric Tonnes (MT) and 300 Metric Tonnes (MT) each of certified seeds of FARO 66 and 300MT of foundation seeds of flood-tolerant rice varieties of FARO 66 and FARO 67 respectively.

“The Ministry is also distributing 26MT of certified wheat seeds to wheat farmers, 1350 maize production kits and 18,517Kg of Aflasafe to ensure that the maize produced is aflatoxin-free.”

He said the associations are expected to distribute the seeds to their members nationwide for the 2020 cropping season.

The government is also reportedly giving out 20MT of breeder seeds of the same varieties to 14 selected seed companies “that have the capacity to produce foundation seeds”.

He said “the Ministry is also distributing 66,000 sprouted nuts of oil to farmers in Kogi, Nasarawa, and Kaduna states. These seeds are free of charge to the beneficiaries while other farm inputs like water pumps, irrigation kits, seed planter among others would be given out at 75 percent subsidy’’.

“In our input distribution efforts, at least 35 percent of the inputs are targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women. This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly,” he added.

Mr Nanono said this is the second in the series of the distribution of the ministry’s palliatives to farmers nationwide.

“Last week in Kano, we collaborated with development partners led by International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), to flag-off the distribution of sorghum, millet, cowpea, and rice to 8,200 farmers from 13 states.”

He said there will be another major roll-out of support to farmers in Oyo State. “On June 11, 2020, improved seeds and seedlings of yam, maize, oil palm, cocoa, and Kenaf among others would be distributed to farmers at the event.”

Meanwhile, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El- Rufai, at the event, appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for his administration’s agricultural policies.

“Mr President is a leader, who saw tomorrow and with his policies in the agric sector would enable our country to achieve food security and boost economic growth,” he reportedly said.

Mr El-Rufai said, “the agricultural mechanization and improved extension services are vital towards improving the agricultural sector and would encourage investors and other relevant stakeholders”.

Source: VON

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