. Says Nigeria’s partnering Brazil for €995m mechanization loan

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FMARD, has said it has successfully captured about 10 million smallholder farmers across the country on its database.

The minister, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono, made this known at the 44th stakeholders National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development meeting held in Abuja, with the theme, ‘Nigeria’s Agriculture and Food Security in the Face of Covid, Floods and Insecurity, a platform for appraising existing policies, programmes and projects at the National and sub-national levels for the purpose of entrenching synergy, best practices, entrepreneurship, livelihood and growth in the sector.

He said the challenges brought by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, floods and insecurity has galvanised the government into setting up necessary structures to address infrastructural deficiency, technology gaps, security challenges and extension inadequacy which has necessitated the collection of smallholder farmers’ data.

Accordingly, he informed that, “We initially set out to capture the data of 2.4million farmers across the country, the results from the exercise have encouraged the Economic Sustainability Plan team to expand the data capture to 10 million farmers.

“All this will feed into the monitoring and evaluation system of the project so that we can measure impact along the line

“To ensure that the input gets to the intended farmers, we created a database for all the participating farmers in the AFJP. Unlike anything that has been done.

“This database is going to be the platform for government interventions going forward, putting an end to ghost schemes and other unscrupulous practices in the agricultural industry.

“This approach is believed to be the right one for achieving our desired economic diversification and national development.

“As a stop-gap intervention, we launched the Agric for Food and Jobs Program, originally conceived as an input loan for smallholder farmers across several commodities including maize, rice, cotton, groundnut, sorghum, cowpea, soybean, sesame, cassava and oil-palm.

Nanono also noted that the scheme brought the FMARD into partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Commodity Associations and Agricultural Platform Companies for effective facilitation.

This, he explained, will not only improve production significantly but also aid in the off-taking of the produce while providing input at reduced price due to economy of scale.

In addition, he said the FMARD has gone into partnership with the government of Brazil through one of their foremost technology transfer institutions, the Fundacao Getulio Vargas, FGV.

“This partnership has yielded an Agricultural Mechanisation loan to the tune of €995m.

“This shall be granted to Nigerian entrepreneurs to establish Service Centres across all the 774 Local Governments of the country, selling services to all categories of farmers and thereby helping to improve their productivity.

 “The service centres shall be of either a Type 1, supporting production activities; or a Type 2, supporting processing and packaging activities,” stressed Shehuri.

In his welcome address, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri said the NCARD summit was initially slated to hold in Jos, Plateau State, but for the effect of COVID– 19 pandemic that changed the entire World.

He however, thanked Governor Simon Lalong, his team for their earlier efforts to host the meeting before it was rescheduled to hold in Abuja, as well as the Hon. Mohammed Musa Bello, for accepting to host us within a short notice to the Federal Capital Territory.

Shehuri also lauded President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR for his supportive role by granting waiver for free movement of farmers to have access to their various farmlands during the lockdown,” he added.

In a goodwill message by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who was represented by House Committee Chairman on Agricultural Production and Services, Hon. Muntari Mohammed Dandutse, the speaker thanked FMARD for identifying the need to synergise its activities mostly with the standing committees in the House, as he lauded the theme of the conference, which he said was quite appropriate and timely.

He however, lamented over the increasing insecurity across the country, saying such a situation threatens Agricultural production in the country.

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