About 2.4 million smallholder farmers across the country have been earmarked to benefit from the Federal Government’s Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), says Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono.
The minister made this known at the inauguration of the programme on Thursday in Katsina.
The plan according to Nanono, is part of a major take-off for the agriculture component of the Nigeria Economic and Sustainability Plan (NESP) targeting smallholder farmers in Nigeria.
Nanono said the project would mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy and livelihood of farmers by creating more access to food.
He added that it would ensure rapid emergence of a competitive food production, processing and distribution in Nigeria.
The minister further highlighted the deliverables of the AFJP as contained in the NESP in 12 months to include “creation of between five million to 10 million jobs in the agric sector.
“Production of about 10,000,000 MT of food, cultivation of between 20,000 to100, 000 hectares of land per state based on land availability to an aggregate of 2.4 million farmers.
“These beneficiaries will be tied to farmlands, zero interest input financing loan, land clearing and preparation support, among others.”
Nanono stated that the programme would be executed in different batches, with over one million farmers to benefit from Batch A across the country, while Batch B beneficiaries would be announced in no distant time.
He stressed that, “this symbolic launch represents over 1,100,000 smallholder farmer beneficiaries in 36 states and the FCT on the Batch A list.
“This will be carried out under six partners namely AFEX, BabanGona, Value Seeds, Universal, Thrive Agric and Oxfam.”
Nanono explained that the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was created to fashion out a plan on COVID-19 intervention.
He said the programme would aid the transformation of the country’s agricultural sector from its largely low yielding and subsistent state to a high yielding technology based farming system.
He further said the strategies would generate appropriate welfare gains consistent with the Federal Government’s Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) and Green Alternative strategies.
“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,” he said.
He lauded the continuous support of OCP AFRICA Fertilizer Limited for its initiative in the provision of soil testing equipment and supply of 20 units of OCP branded motorcycles.
He also thanked the company for providing Android tablets and safety kits to support the Ministry of Agriculture in ensuring efficient extension services.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, lauded the efforts of the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for the visionary policies in the agriculture sector.
He said the sector was the bedrock of the economy, adding that any form of intervention or investment would go a long way in ensuring national development.
The Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture Production Services, Rep. Muntari Danduste, also thanked the President for the intervention.
He said the move would help cushion effects of the pandemic on the 2020 farming season in Katsina State and the nation at large.
Speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Abdulkadir Mua’zu, said the presence of dignitaries at the event was an indication of the appreciation of the programme.
Mua’zu, who was represented by the Director, Department of Agriculture Extension, Mr Frank Kudla, said called for the continuous support of the stakeholders.
He added that their support would go a long way in ensuring that the objective of the AFJP was achieved.
He said ‘’our coming together is because we are determined to join forces for action against COVID-19 pandemic, hunger and poverty.
“I therefore, implore you all, especially our partners, to work hard to ensure that the core activities of this project is carried out to a logical conclusion in the coming months.’’
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