Nigerian government has launched the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), a component of the Nigeria Economic and Sustainability Plan (NESP).
The plan is to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on farmers and the economy.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, during the official launch of the AFJP in Katsina State on Thursday, according to a statement issued by Ezeaja Ikemefuna, the ministry’s director of information.
“The project would mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy and livelihoods of farmers by creating more access to food for and the rapid emergence of a competitive food production, processing and distribution in Nigeria,” the statement reads.
The minister reportedly said “this symbolic launch represents over 1,100,000 smallholder farmer beneficiaries in 36 states and the FCT on the Batch A list under 6 partners namely AFEX, BabanGona, Value Seeds, Universal, Thrive Agric and Oxfam.
“We will soon be announcing Batch B beneficiaries,” he added.
Mr Nanono noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier set up an Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) which was chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to fashion out a plan on COVID-19 intervention.
He said one of the strategies adopted by the committee is the AFJP, and that the programme will aid the transformation of agriculture from its largely low yielding and subsistent state to a high yielding technology based farming system.
“The strategies would generate appropriate welfare gains consistent with the federal government’s Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) and Green Alternative strategies,” he said.
The minister also said the plan, “is also in tandem with the three pronged action plan of the ministry to deal with the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian agriculture and farmers’’.
Mr Nanono explained that these measures included among others, the life-saving humanitarian assistance to vulnerable households to buffer the impact of COVID-19, such as the release of about 100,000 metric tons of assorted food commodities from the National Food Reserve to several groups and communities.
The minister said within 12 months, as contained in the NESP initiative, the expected deliverables of the AFJP include: creation of 5-10 million jobs in the agric sector; production of about 10,000,000 MT of food and cultivation of between 20,000 – 100,000 hectares of land per state based on land availability to an aggregate of 2.4 million farmers tied to farmlands.
More so, he said, loans to farmers will given at zero interest, as well as land clearing and preparation support, among others .
Meanwhile, the minister appreciated the continuous support of OCP Africa Fertiliser Limited for the provision of soil testing equipment and supply of 20 units of OCP branded motorcycles, android tablets and safety kits to support the FMARD extension services.
In his remarks, the chairman, Senate committee on agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu, reportedly said the agriculture sector is the bedrock of the economy, and applauded the agriculture policies of this administration.
Also, the chairman, House committee on agricultural production services, Muntari Danduste, and the permanent secretary in the ministry, Abdulkadir Mua’zu, appreciated Mr Buhari for providing palliative to farmers in Katsina State.