Several smallholder farmers in Oyo State, on Wednesday, received different categories of Kenaf, yam and cocoa seedlings as part of the federal ministry of agriculture’s COVID-19 pandemic palliative.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Shehuri, who flagged off the distribution at Moore Plantation, Ibadan, said the distribution of farm inputs was to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on smallholders’ livelihood and avert food scarcity in Nigeria by 2021.
Noting that COVID-19 had negatively impacted food supply chains, he avowed that the ministry’s intervention was part of the Federal Government’s plan to sustain agricultural production, increase the resilience of farmers and enhance the national food systems.
He charged the benefiting farmers to utilise the seedlings to produce adequate food for the nation and enable the nation to remain self-sufficient.
Handed over to Oyo State was 19,672 kilograms of Kenaf foundation seeds, 12 metric tonnes of foundation seeds for yam farmers, 18,000 kilograms of organic insecticide for maize farmers and part of 66,000 cocoa seedlings being distributed to farmers nationwide.
Shehuri, however, pointed out that while seeds were being given to farmers free of charge, other inputs were being distributed at 75 per cent subsidy.
“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 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 be here with you today to flag-off the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers which include different categories of seeds of Kenaf, yam and cocoa seedlings 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,” Shehuri said.
Speaking further, he assured that the Ministry of Agriculture will continue to support breeder and foundation seeds production and link up with private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers.
Giving his remarks, Oyo State governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, lauded the decision of the Federal Government to support Oyo State farmers especially when they grappled with the effects of COVID-19 on their livelihoods.
He said the Federal Government’s intervention was in tandem with the state government’s COVID-19 food security emergency intervention programme targeted at 11,000 verifiable smallholder farmers and youths in the state.
Represented by Secretary to the state government, Mrs Olubamiwo Adeosun, Makinde said the state was not unaware of deprivations in rural infrastructures and challenges faced by persons engaged in agriculture.
As part of government’s intents, Makinde said the state was poised to revamp the Eruwa and Akufo farm settlements, finance the construction of silo in Awe and construct several rural roads, especially those that will enhance agriculture.
Especially, Makinde asked the Federal Government to concede the Ikere Gorge Dam to the state for optimal utilization of the facility for the development of agribusiness.
Furthermore, Makinde demanded that the state be included in the federal government’s agricultural projects in agric mechanization, fixing of federal roads that link agricultural communities with markets.
“We request that Oyo State be considered under the Appeal and World Bank CARES projects. We need to understand how the state will benefit more from the Federal Government agricultural projects such as on the recent agric mechanization scheme.
“We also request that the Ikere Gorge Dam be conceded to the state so we can maximally utilise it for development of agribusiness in Nigeria.
“We also request for the revamping and reconstruction of several federal roads that link the agricultural community with the market and urban areas,” Makinde said.