The Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has asserted that the Aright Agricultural Policies of the Buhari-led administration saved Nigeria from food scarcity in the heat of COVID-19 pandemic.
Alhaji Nanono made the assertion on Thursday in during the Flag off/Roll out of agricultural input distribution to farmers Nationwide in Calabar.
He said prior to the Buhari administration, many Nigerians were doubtful of the capacity of the country to feed itself and the notion fuelled agitation of foreign exchange to finance food imports.
His words: “Prior to Buhari administration a lot of Nigerians were doubtful of the capacity of the country to feed itself, this notion fuelled the agitation for greater allocation of foreign exchange to finance food imports ranging from rice, dairy, sugar, oil and host of others.
“With COVID-19, the priority of every country in the world is to ensure limited disruption to its food supply chains. A number of countries have banned or drastically reduced food exports to avoid scarcity of food.
“With dwindling oil revenues and limited opportunity to import food, one would only wonder what Nigeria would have been experiencing today, in terms of food supply, if this Administration had not taken the right policy steps and remained focused and steadfast.
“This gathering is one of our efforts to work for a hand-in hand with state governments and other relevant stakeholders to assist in ensuring food security, economic growth and job creation, especially in the face of COVID-19 Pandemic.
“It is, therefore, my pleasure to roll out the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers which include different categories of cocoa seedlings, improved oil palm sprouted nuts and cashew seeds as part of my Ministry’s interventions to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and avert food scarcity in 2021.
“As you are aware, the restriction of movement of people, goods and services has negatively impacted on food supply chains, incomes and livelihoods in the country.
“Since smallholders are the most vulnerable, it becomes imperative for the government to support them with the much-needed inputs especially seeds, which is the most important factor that influences farmers’ yield in order to enable them to recover quickly from the set back of the Pandemic,” he said.
Speaking further he explained that complementary interventions like this by the government will increase the resilience of farmers and the national food system.
He said: “Through this effort and other complementary interventions by different stakeholders, the government hopes to increase the resilience of farmers and the national food systems in general.
“The Ministry and its research institutions are working towards making Nigeria self-sufficient in good quality seed and its availability to farmers as a foundation for attaining food and nutrition security as well as industrialisation.
“Our efforts to improve rural infrastructure and other value-chains supports would invariably contribute to the attainment of Mr President’s desire to ensure easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians.
“Today, the Ministry is supporting the oil-palm farmers, with 5,000 improved oil-palm sprouted nuts and 1,500kg improved cashew seed. The cocoa farmers will also be supported with 20,000 cocoa seedlings and agrochemicals. In addition, Rice farmers will be supported with 1,000 kg of rice seeds,” he said.