By Palma Ileye
In line with renewed hope agenda to address food security, the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, FMAFS, Senator Abubakar Kyari, has unveiled road map expected to lift the country from food security challenges also calling on all Nigerians to remain focus as the Ministry was working very hard to address the issues of Farmers-Herders clashes in the country.
Kyari disclosed this yesterday during a Ministerial press briefing on the way forward for the agricultural sector at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Abuja.
Accordingly, he noted that the Ministry shall engage with other Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs and State Governments towards addressing all issues impacting the attainment of the national food security objectives.
He disclosed that the Ministry under their watch shall be guided by some lessons learned in the implementation of the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy, NATIP, which was launched for 2022-2027.
Saying that many of the initiatives and programs being implemented by the Ministry from 2022 to date were the focus of its engagements with the Ministry Staff and briefings on on-going projects by our Development Partners.
He said that there were focal areas that hinged on integration, sustainability, and resilience to these challenges adding that these span were immediate, short, medium, and long term.
Speaking on the Immediate priority actions which were ongoing to the end of 2023: the Agric Minister said; “The most pressing actions we are currently handling is preparation for the next dry-season farming beginning from November 2023. To this end, some preparatory activities have been carried out and many others are at the advanced stage viz: Certification of available planting materials for some food security crops in readiness for dry-season farming; Aggressive promotion and preparations for dry season farming which commences from November this year; Implementation of the dry season Wheat production starting in November 2023 as part of the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket, NAGS-AP, projects funded by the African Development Bank. Under this scheme, the target is to produce wheat over a 70, 000 hectares across the wheat production zone of the country with an expected yield of 875,000 metric tonnes for our food reserve; blending of appropriate fertilizers to support this year’s dry season farming while making provisions for next year farming season well in advance; Providing Train-the-Trainer for extension agents involved in dry season farming in collaboration with wheat producing States and other partners such as flour mills.
“Furthermore, arrangements are also at advanced stage for dry season farming of rice, maize and other horticultural crops;
Hold the National Agriculture and Food Security Summit in November 2023 to bring all Stakeholders together for development of National Action Plan for Food Security with an implementation and sustainability strategy; Hold the National Council for Agriculture and Food Security, NCAFS, Meeting in Cross River State in November 2023 to develop a strategic operational plan for Federal-State-Local Government joint implementation plans and strategies; Review the mechanisms and processes for delivering fertilizers and agro pesticides input to farmers under a transparent and accountable regime.
“This will be part of the main agenda at both the Summit and the NCAFS meetings in November this year; Distribute pasture seeds and cuttings for dry season pasture and fodder development for livestock productivity beginning November 2023.”
He also listed short Short–term priority actions 2023 – 2024 as:
“Agriculture and Food Security Stakeholders’ analysis and mapping; Make significant investment in animals feed-crop, fodder and pasture production as an antidote to the farmers and herders clashes by focusing the development of paddocks, foliage and fodder estates equipped with necessary facilities for all year round production; Strengthen agriculture and food security institutions and repositioning them for the tasks ahead; Reform the National Agricultural Research System to serve as the engine of growth for innovative solutions to strategic value chains, increase productivity-yields of our food security and export crops, livestock, and fisheries; Establish 2 new national gene bank facilities, each for crop and animal respectively to conserve our fast-eroding genetic resources for food security.
“Fast-track the take-off and operations of the National Agricultural Development Fund; Develop a National Framework for proper coordination and alignment of all ongoing and future development partners’ projects to our national priorities.
“Develop innovative communication, monitoring, evaluation, learning and accountability platforms that guarantees continuous interface among all the critical stakeholders to ensure 24/7 engagements and field reporting. ICT tools will be deployed to support these platforms for the facilitation of e-extension services at scale.
“Develop a stakeholder Engagement and Communication Strategy for Agriculture and Food Security; Develop a new strategy for strengthening agricultural infrastructure and provision of support to our new farm types (which shall be unveiled before the end of the year); Prepare a Joint Action Plan with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to unlock the huge irrigation potentials of the River Basins Development Authorities and other flood plains in the country to guarantee all year round food production. It is very important to note the directives of Mr. President when he declared the national state of emergency on food security thus: “There must be an urgent synergy between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Water Resources to ensure adequate irrigation of farmlands and to guarantee that food is produced all year round.” It is on this note that the Ministry shall make strategic investment in renewable irrigation solutions like solar-powered irrigation pumps for small-holder farmers.
“Conduct a comprehensive review of all existing agricultural laws and legislation to fast-track necessary amendments and enactments to support farmers’ welfare and private sector participation in agriculture and food security;
Develop a standard framework and guide for ‘Ease of Doing Agriculture and Food Security, EDAFS’ operations/projects/business in Nigeria; Identify all available vacant farmlands in various Federal Government Institutions (Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, Unity Schools, federally owned regimented areas like the military, police and para-military allocated vacant arable lands) to bring them into food production to enhance our food security indices.
“Collaborate and partner with states to revive secondary school farms to enhance food security and agri-business enterprises; Promote urban agriculture that is technology-enabled and especially driven by innovations and the passions of our teeming youths; Enhance the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan for increased productivity and job creation; Deepen engagement between farmers, herders, traditional institutions and communities to promote peaceful coexistence and conflict resolution; Develop and promote a performance based agricultural extension system; Promote the establishment of agricultural marketing incubation centres (Agribusiness Development Centres) for youth and women across the ix (6) geo-political zones; Capacity building to strengthen the farm inputs regulatory functions to enable them play their regulatory role to checkmate the infiltration of adulterated farm inputs i.e. fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides etc.
“Institutionalization in the Ministry and consolidation of Nigerian Food System Dashboard for informed quality planning, policy decision and information dissemination on the state of food and nutrition in the Country.
“Ensure the development of a robust and sustainable innovation ecosystem, a call for application for agronnovation enterprise and venture development competition targeting Nigerian youths is being developed.”
Also he said Medium term actions from 2024 -2026 includes: “Development of digital/ICT Mobile-based Agro-industry System and E-extension platforms to support farmers through the establishment of the national centres in the 6 agro-ecological zones of Nigeria while the Command and Control Office will be here in Abuja; Meat, dairy, eggs, fish and other protein from animal sources will receive our special intervention to increase productivity target of annual growth rate of 10% year on year; Our interventions will accelerate the uptake of Minimum Viable Products from our institutions and agencies in the agricultural mechanization and implements production space in Nigeria for full commercialization by the private sector investment Development of comprehensive soil fertility mapping and soil information system for food security.
“Development and implementation of the National Farmers Soil Health Card Scheme to increase productivity; Up-scaling and Out-scaling of various agricultural value chain projects in crops, livestock, fisheries and support services under the annual appropriation and special interventions; Using Fintech solutions, wallets shall be created for all financial disbursements to deliver directly to the targeted end users. Priority shall be given to the use of digital and DEFI solutions to reform Bank of Agriculture and Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation among others; Conduct standard feasibility and viability studies for commodity board operations in Nigeria.
“Set up world class accredited laboratories in our Research Institutes that will receive and be governed by international standard organization -ISO certification and other regional, continental and international permits to validate the quality of our exports and certification before shipment.
“Develop a new Intergovernmental partnership framework for the implementation of mutually beneficial agricultural projects between Federal, State and Local governments; Strengthen Commodity Exchange for agriculture in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Revive and promote home economics and food and nutrition knowledge transfers and practices at the State and Local Governments level under the watch of the First Lady of the Federal Republic and First Ladies at State levels for food and nutrition security.
“Development and promotion of cooperative models for impactful agricultural development across the various agriculture value-chains; Promotion and strengthening of Agro-Rangers to include other paramilitary to assist in solving the problems of civil insecurity at the farm level.”
Explaining the long term, the Minister revealed Long Term actions – 2024 -2027
Development of a national agricultural database for planning and implementation of agriculture and food security programs and initiatives. We are committed to working with relevant MDAs, private sector and international development partners to co-create a functional digital transformation platforms that will facilitate data driven precision farming, climate resilience and smart agricultural practices including e-extension services; Carryout technology/ICT enabled farms and farmers enumeration and mapping in collaboration with states, local governments and development partners; Repositioning the Universities of Agriculture, Veterinary Medicines and Faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicines to play key roles in our agricultural transformation through the development of practical approaches for production and mechanization.
“We are set to unlock the job creation potentials of cold chain systems by encouraging private sector participation in community cold chain enterprises. The target is to incentivize the establishment of new food storage ventures across the country with direct and indirect new job creation.
“Reform and remodel the Federal Colleges of Agriculture, FCAs and the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute, ARMTI, to focus on vocational skills development & management training for agriculture and food security issues; Development of critical mass of agricultural breeders (crops, livestock, and fisheries) and other emerging knowledge areas in ICT for agriculture (smart agriculture) to position our agricultural production system for the challenges of feeding an increasing population under scarce and challenged resource base; Provide support for acquiring advanced laboratories equipment to drive new One health approach for veterinary practices while ensuring collaboration with human health practitioners and researchers to achieve Nigeria’s One health.
“Establishment of new agro tourism hubs where our farms and national agricultural heritage can be made to create new wealth and jobs. Our target is to strengthen existing investments and encourage the youth and the practitioners/ investors in the hospitality industry to establish new agro tourist centres across the country. Review of existing curriculum for all fields of agriculture in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education, National Universities Commission, NUC, National Board of Technical Education, NBTE and the National Commission for Colleges of Education towards the production of future agricultural graduates that are prepared for the next generation of agriculture, Agriculture 4.0.
“Establishment of Animal Disease Free Zones and of compartmentalization for export of livestock and livestock product;
Conduct a scientific migratory pattern studies on migratory birds (pest) to develop intervention map and mitigation measures for the control of trans boundary pests; Stabilization of feed and other input products and prices in poultry value chain; Strengthening the Community of Practice (CoP) for knowledge exchange and sharing of experiences to promote innovation and best practices amongst Federal, State and Local Government officials involved in agriculture and food security
Promote viable agricultural mechanization enterprises sand services such as the tractor and equipment e-hailing hiring services at the State and Local Government levels to enhance tractorization. Establishment of multipurpose Input Resources & Communication Centres, IRCC, across the country in phases. The centres will ensure transparent and accountable last mile delivery of agricultural inputs while creating effective communication platform and co-location of e-extension services digital platforms. This will create huge job opportunities for Nigerian youths and women.”
Furthermore he said, “We have examined the operating environment and want to be guided by the following critical success factors: Farmers, producers, processors, and marketers shall be given capacity building to increase skill set, and technical know-how for enhance productivity and to reduce wastages; Partnerships and collaborations anchored on trust and mutually beneficial schemes. Evidence-based results and factual engagements will drive the processes with all stakeholders.
“Staff capacity building in projects monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning framework with emphasis on ICT and digital technology use for efficiency and high performance; Reviving the Agriculture Departments of Local Government Areas such that in strong and mutually beneficial relations with State’s Ministries of Agriculture and Food Securities/Rural Development we shall usher in a renewed working pact under a new Joint Agricultural Project Implementation Committees, JAPIC, at the State Level and Joint Project Implementation Task Teams, JAPITT, at the Local Government Levels.
“This will be achieved with the support of the National Economic Council under the Office of the Vice President and the National Council for Agriculture and Food Security under our Ministry; The Local Governments Departments of Agriculture to serve as the core- operational hub of projects implementation with buy-in and ownership being built up across the project life cycle; bringing agriculture and food security matter to the grassroots.
“To kick off on the journey to our shared and collective prosperity, permit me to use this medium to announce the First National Agriculture and Food security Summit scheduled to hold in November 2023. The summit is essentially programmed to enlist the interest and support of all the actors in Nigeria’s agriculture and food security space in our bid to create the future of affordable and safe nutritious foods while focusing on farmers’ welfare. The summit shall be Chaired and declared opened by President Ahmed Bola Tinubu GCFR, where he is expected to make specific declarations and outline the expected call to action for all the stakeholders with clear metrics. I will be highly honored to be your host and in the coming weeks, the summit portal will be launched to kick-start the pre-summit activities.”
He thanked the Management, Staff, Development Partners, organized private sectors and other stakeholders for their cooperation and support in the developmental efforts also appreciating the various assurances offered to work with the Ministry to attain this mandate.