This was made known in a keynote address by the ministry’s Regional Director, North Central, S.B. Baye, at the workshop themed, ‘Good Agricultural Practices/Aflaxations Mitigation in Sesame; and the use /Application of Inoculant (NODUMAX) in Soyabean production held in Minna, Niger State.
Baye stated the workshop, which is made up of key players, particularly farmers and researchers, amongst others, is charged with the responsibility to review the current status of the subsector, identify the challenges and opportunities, so as to proffer solutions to the challenges, as well as chart a roadmap for its development, in the areas of discussion.
He said, there is no gainsaying that Nigeria is blessed with a diverse agricultural endowment to drive the country’s economy but has been relegated to the background due to years of neglect in the sector.
“Many thanks, therefore, go to this administration that has made agriculture the centre of its economic diversification agenda,” he said.
Mr Baye also noted that nothing is more important than food, as he added that any nation that does not feed itself becomes a threat to its own sovereign existence.
“Growing our own food, processing what we produce, becoming competitive in export markets, and creating jobs all across our economy, are crucial for our national security.
“Nigeria has immense agricultural potential with 84 million hectares of arable land but only cultivate 40% and 263 billion cubic meters of water – with two of the largest rivers in Africa.
“We have a cheap labour force to support agricultural intensification, as our population of close to 200 million makes us a huge market.
“But we must not be the market for others. We must grow and process our own food.
He further stated that while the country’s potential is great, no one eats potential.
In his words, “To unlock the potential of Agriculture to once again drive the economy, we embarked on a major transformation of the agricultural sector.
“We are doing this through the rapid transformation of key agricultural value chains – from the farm to the table and are treating Agriculture as a moneymaking business and not as a charitable development project.
The director further explained that the FMARD has put in place, various measures to increase production, processing and value addition.
“These include; supports for research through the National Agricultural Research System in the country; making available various classes of seeds; sensitization and capacity building for stakeholders; and other supports including the establishment of cottage processing centres at different locations across the country amongst others,” he added.
He, therefore, called on farmers and all stakeholders to collaborate with the ministry to work as a team, for the common goal of positively transforming the agricultural value chain in Nigeria.
In his welcome address, Niger State Director, FMARD, Mr Ahmedu Zegi, said, the ministry is focusing on achieving food and nutrition security through its various activities by using a combination of policies and appropriate agricultural technologies that will lead to job and wealth creation.
According to him, this will improve living standards.
“One of the ways in which the Ministry is working to achieve this objective is through the promotion of various crops in which Nigeria has a comparative advantage in production.
“In this regard, we will be running two workshops concurrently, first is the workshop on GAP and Aflatoxins in Sesame and secondly, on the application of Nodumax in Soybean production in Nigeria,” he asserted.