By Palma Ileye
Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, FMAFS, has restated its commitment to the development of the sector in 2024.
This commitment was contained in a New Year message signed by Sen. Abubakar Kyari, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security and Sen. Dr. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, the Minister of State, FMAFS.
According to the message, the Ministers acknowledged that, in many respects, the past year, 2023, presented challenges to the nation, and as families and individuals.
They said that during the festive season, “We heard citizens’ complaints about the cost of food items and citizens’ diminished purchasing power.”
FG through the Ministry assured Nigerians that it has heard the cries, and were working assiduously to arrest the high food inflationary trend that has been on for some time.
The message read in parts, “In our task, we are happy that we have the full backing and encouragement of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has deployed statesmanship in developing pathways to ease our national pains, and set the country on a higher and faster trajectory of growth and development.
“Affordability is one of the critical indices of food security, along with availability, accessibility, sustainability, and nutrition. We recognise that food affordability has been impacted by, among others, transportation costs, infrastructure impediments, and exchange rate volatility, especially with regard to the imported component of our food requirements.
“However, the good news is that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is boosting domestic production of staple crops. This has been accelerated with the launch, in November 2023, of the dry season farming, targeting wheat, rice, maize, and cassava. We hereby appeal to farmers to continue to heed the expert advice of Extension Service Agents. We also applaud state governments that have made interventions, in line with President Tinubu’s food security agenda.
“We call on all stakeholders in the agriculture and food security sector to be alert to the prospects and opportunities that the New Year presents. In 2024, we shall not only round off the dry season farming which commenced in November last year, but also have the full wet season farming, and thereafter the commencement of the next dry season farming. Several other agriculture-related programmes and projects are still running.
“For us in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, a number of items in our Strategic Work Plan will equally gather pace in the New Year. This includes formalising the processes and procedures for bringing under cultivation the vast arable land currently lying fallow in the possession of Federal institutions and establishments. Our goal in this regard is to significantly increase agricultural production in more secure environments.”
The message disclosed that Federal Government will also proceed with the reform of Bank of Agriculture with the ultimate objective of enabling genuine farmers access affordable credit. Noting that this will be in addition to ramping up insurance for players in the agriculture and food security sector.
The message by the Ministers, said that sights were also set on boosting animal husbandry, poultry and allied businesses, aquaculture, as well as agro-forestry.
Both, further congratulated Nigerians on the New Year, urging that, “Let us as citizens join hands to till our fertile lands and reap of the abundant harvests.”