Farming In Rice, Maize, Sorghum, Cowpea, Others To Benefit From FG’s AFJP

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 The Federal Government has launched a 12 month agriculture-focused intervention scheme through the Agric for Food and Job Plan (AFJP) which is aimed at increasing food production and creating jobs 

The scheme which will target crops and livestock such as rice, Maize, Sorghum, soybeans, Groundnuts, Cowpea, Cassava, millet, livestock, horticulture, palm kernel, and cotton for the local market, will target white sesame seeds, hibiscus, cocoa, hides and skin, horns and hoofs are targeted for the export market. 

Andrew Kwasari, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, during the launch of AFJP programme, said that the impact of COVID-19 on the agriculture sector which has led to heightened panic, restrictions and lack of access to credit facilities especially for the small holder farmers has necessitated the for the plan. 

He said that AFJP was developed plans to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local food production and would among others, increase agricultural productivity, create job opportunities in the sector, strengthen Nigeria’s food supply chain, and help the economy recover speedily. 

Kwasari stated that the project will be a joint venture between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, state governments, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and private sector via out-grower schemes and farmers across the country. 

He added that it is aimed at boosting locally-grown food supply, while simultaneously creating employment opportunities in the agricultural sector, stressing that this will be achieved through investment in the sector through the provision of zero-interest input financing options such as fertilizers and seeds to farmers across the 36 states in Nigeria and the FCT, to produce a harvest that can sell domestically and internationally. 

According to him, “the project aim at providing zero interest finance to smallholder farmers, link farmers to markets for off-market throughout grower schemes as well as enhance land productivity through good agronomic practices”. 

“A vital sector affected by the virus is the Agricultural sector, with panic, restriction and lack of access to funding and relevant input impeding the farming process”. 

“To this end, the Federal Government in collaboration with the State Governments through the federal ministry of Agriculture is set to launch a revolutionary agric-focused intervention scheme in the form of the Agric for Food and Jobs Plan”. 

Speaking further, he said that the programme would be run for a duration of 12 months with an aggregate of two million hectares of land to produce 10 million metric tonnes of food including; carbohydrate, animal protein, and edible oil, saying this would be implemented In collaboration with the N-Power Scheme – a part of the Federal Government’s Social Intervention Programme. 

He added that trained enumerators have been sent out to identify farmers and their farms to ensure proper targeting of beneficiaries and after completion of the identification and registration phase, farmers under the evidence-based database would be able to access input financing facilities to carry on their 2020 wet season farming. They will also have a guaranteed market in the form of assigned off-takers. 

According to him, the project differs from the Anchor Borrowers Scheme which was launched by the Central Bank of Nigeria. 

Oba Dokun Thompson, the Oloni of Eti-Oni and the Chairman of Eti-Oni Development Group, in his view stated that over the last few years, the nation have had serious security issues and challenges across the country and that experts have also predicted the negative impact this will have on food production, availability and supply in the immediate future. 

“This combined with the recent COVID-19 and its attendant disruption of global economic activities, the Nigerian farmers, most being small holder farmers have also not been spared with little or no capacity for storage facilities or value addition capabilities to boost earnings or increase the life span of their produce before consumption,” 

Oba Thompson, who is an international cocoa trader, said that the CBN intervention is timely and will not only restore the confidence in the agric sector, but also help revive morale of farmers. 

He said the initiative would possibly help address some of the security issues around lives and properties which can lead to food security and economic development because lack of funding is a major challenge in the agric sector. 

Oba Thompson said that the nation need home grown solutions and as much as local funding as possible if the nation is ready to develop its agriculture sector. 

Read Original Report Here By Independent

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