The Federal Government has called on stakeholders to explore linkages for an increase in production, processing and marketing within the agribusiness ecosystem to avert the food crisis.
Dr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, made the call on Tuesday at the opening of the Technical Session of the 44th Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development in Abuja.
Umakhihe told the meeting, which had as its theme “Nigeria’s Agriculture and Food Security in the Face of COVID-19, Floods and Insecurity”, that such strategies would engender food sufficiency in the country.
He said that the meeting provided a forum for the Council to review ongoing policies and programmes towards a meaningful impact on the economy of the country.
He said that the meeting would also examine the challenges in the agricultural sector and explore the best approach to sustain food security, employment generation and wealth creation in the country.
Umakhihe noted that the incident of the coronavirus pandemic in the nation had rededicated government and non-government organisations to share and mobilise resources towards improving the public health system and repositioning the economy.
“In this setting, the agriculture sector is still identified and tasked as a springboard for the nation’s socio-economic recovery, stabilisation and growth,” he said.
According to Umakhihe, the commitment of the ministry is tied to the commodity value chain concept of strengthening sectoral linkages, import substitution initiatives, value-added processing and export-oriented activities in Nigeria.
He said: “We are implementing the prevailing frameworks of the National Economic Sustainability Plan and the Nigerian Agricultural Technology and Innovation Plan as a strategy for food resilience and economic development.
“Our collective activities are, therefore, centred on enhancing research applications; machinery utilisation; extension service; input access; affordable credits; commodity output; processing capacity; market access; and revenue earnings.
“In this direction, Government’s efforts include the provision of machinery and inputs to farmers and training of Extension Agents on extension service delivery in crop, fishery and livestock value chain activities.”
The Permanent Secretary also said that the government’s efforts also included the construction of the mini-earth dam for irrigation activities.
He said that the government’s concerns were also in the facilitation of rice, milk and cassava processing plants, bush clearing, farmers market, commercial pasture plots, windmill-powered boreholes and rural roads.
Umakhihe said that government would conduct aerial spray against the seasonal invasion of quelea birds in the North East and North West frontline states to mitigate losses.
“We are aware and cautious of the impact of COVID- 19 on the global community, as well as climate change, flooding, and insecurity that is posing a threat to food security in the country.
“Stakeholders should deliberately put strategies in place and explore linkages for an increase in production, processing and marketing within the agribusiness ecosystem, to avert food crisis and engender food sufficiency in the country,” he said.
According to him, take in this direction is to sustain our collaborations on agribusiness initiatives to facilitate incentives to researchers, farmers and processors, and therewith, increase agricultural output and match national requirements.
“This will encourage more individuals and institutions to invest in agriculture and create livelihoods and wealth for the populace.
“Therefore, we must sustain our cooperation on agriculture and food security for socio-economic development in the country,” he said.
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