• Urges Nigerians to support local food production
• Don calls for more conducive environment
The Federal Government has itemised reasons agricultural agenda of the government has been successful and transformational since 2015, urging that increase in food prices is temporary as efforts would soon yield positive results.
This was contained in a statement from the presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, urging Nigerians to support the government for food security.
“The President Buhari is determined to ensure that Nigeria grows what it eats and produces what it consumes. He has been determined to ensure this since he assumed office in 2015. One of the first significant programmes he launched was the Anchor Borrowers Programme, led and underwritten by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),” the statement said.
It said since then, agriculture initiatives like the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), FarmerMoni, Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (L-PRES), NIRSAL Agro Geo-Cooperatives Scheme, NIRSAL Multi-Peril Crop Indemnity-Index Insurance, Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), N-Power Agro, and others have been launched to support the presidential vision to revolutionize the sector, with many states and private investors keying into the vision, with emerging positive results.
One of such reasons is that, in Kaduna and Kwara states, Olam Group invested $150 million to build Nigeria’s largest integrated animal feed mill, poultry breeding farm and day-old-chick (DOC) hatchery, and an integrated poultry and fish feed mill, respectively. These game-changing investments were commissioned in 2017.
Also, Ekiti State government is partnering with Promasidor to revive the hitherto abandoned Ikun Dairy Farm. The project has seen a 5-million-dollar investment from Promasidor. At full capacity, the dairy farm would produce over 10,000 litres of milk per day, and employ more than 1,000 workers. In addition, a new rice mill is under construction in Ado Ekiti, the Fedral Government said.
Another reason is, the government said, in May 2020, GB Foods opened a N20 billion tomato processing factory in Kebbi, and an adjoining farm, the second largest factory in Nigeria and the only fully backward integrated plant in ECOWAS.
“When fully completed (all phases), the factory will be the largest fresh tomatoes processing factory in Sub-Saharan Africa. The farm will produce industrial tomatoes in the dry season and soya beans in the rainy season. The soya bean oil will be used to manufacture GB Foods’ mayonnaise.
“In Ogun, GB Foods, in July 2020, opened its N5.5 billion state-of-the-art mayonnaise production factory in Sango, Ogun State. The soya beans to serve the plant will be farmed in its brand new farm in Kebbi State,” the statement added.
It was also disclosed that in Anambra, in October 2019, Coscharis commissioned its40,000 MT modular rice mill.
“A second phase of 80,000MT capacity is under construction. Total investment by Coscharis comes to about N12 billion. Prior to that, in 2016 the Company began growing rice on its own farms, and now has more than 2,500 hectares under cultivation.
“Lagos State is building a 32-metric-tonne per hour rice mill in Imota, one of the largest rice mills in Africa. It will produce 2.4 million bags of 50kg per annum, and create an estimated 250,000 jobs. It will source its rice from other states across the country, leveraging on the Anchor Borrowers scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
In 2018, Cross River commissioned its brand new N3 billion hybrid rice seedlings factory to supply seedlings nationwide. The factory, commissioned by President Buhari, is part of CrossRice, a multi-billion-naira commercial agriculture Development project promoted by the Cross River State Rice Company Management Board, the Central Bank of Nigeria and Sterling Bank.
Also, under the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative, which launched in January 2017, a total of 22 blending plants were resuscitated as of the end of 2019, with a combined installed capacity of over 2.5 million metric tonnes. In that period, more than 18 million 50kg bags of fertiliser produced and supplied for sale. Prior to the launch of the PFI, only four fertiliser blending plants were in operation in Nigeria, running at 10 per cent capacity utilisation.
Similarly, in Lagos, Dangote Group is building a two-billion-dollar fertiliser plant that would be the biggest in the world, with a production capacity of 3 million tonnes of urea and ammonia per annum. It will commence production in the first quarter of 2021.
Dangote Group, in 2016, also launched a rice out-grower scheme covering 150,000 hectares of land in Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Niger and Jigawa states, and is also building a 16MT/hour rice mill in Jigawa State, the first of six rice mills planned across the above-mentioned states.
In Ondo State, Nigeria’s leading grower of cocoa, a nine-billion-naira chocolate factory was commissioned in September 2020, with the capacity to produce 2.8 million tonnes of chocolate yearly. According to the governor, to guarantee the supply of cocoa beans to the factory, a 1,700-hectare cocoa plantation had been revived with 250 farmers.
The 2020 wet season harvesting has commenced, and the government said with it would come a moderation in food prices. For example, it added, Ogun State started harvesting rice in August. The state is developing hundreds of hectares of rice at Rice Hubs across 10 local government areas of the state, under the Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), a partnership between the Federal Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“Also under the VCDP, women farmers in Niger State are seeing a four-fold increase in rice yields. In the Hadejia River Valley in Jigawa State, which was largely spared the devastating floods that affected parts of Northwest Nigeria, Rice Harvesting has also commenced.”
A statement from the president’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said: “The National Food Security Council (chaired by President Buhari, with Kebbi State Governor as Vice Chair) met twice in recent weeks to tackle issues of flooding and rising food prices.
“Relief interventions are being made available to the farmers affected by the flooding in Kebbi and other parts of the Northwest, and they are gradually bouncing back and preparing to re-plant. Parts of the Southwest that had previously suffered shortfalls of rain are also now seeing a reversal of this situation.”
However, Vice Chancellor of Al-Qalam University, Katsina, Prof. Shehu Garki Ado, has urged the government create more conducive environment for agricultural businesses to restore the lost glory and revenue from agriculture.
He said: “Enabling environment for value addition is another important factor in utilizing agriculture for foreign exchange earnings, which will be better than the oil which is a non-renewable resource.
“In contrast to oil, agriculture can be utilised in a sustainable way. Dependence on home-made agricultural products is one of the ways to protect and encourage farmers to continue producing food.”
Prof. Ado said the revenue from produce exports supported the country and was expanded in the oil exploration, saying, “So, agriculture will surely support the country and lead it to more rapid economic development.
As agriculture provides employment to about 80% of Nigerians, and it can sustain the economy of the country. Indeed, the contributions of agriculture to the gross domestic product on per capita basis is more than from oil by nearly 80%; this shows that the potential for agriculture as an alternative source of foreign exchange is obvious.”