The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, has revealed that the federal government has resolved to inject over N600 billion as a stimulus response into the agriculture sector, targetting small scale farmers, to ensure food security and sustainability.
This was disclosed in a statement, on Sunday, by Theodore Ogaziechi, the director of information in the agriculture ministry.
The minister stated this while on a weekend tour of Dangote Fertilizer Plant.
Mr Nanono also had a crucial meeting with other fertilizer companies in Lagos State seeking their cooperation for food production.
According to him, the well over N600 billion stimulus-response. which targets farmers nationwide, will take off with an initial 2.4 million farmers.
“To avoid the abuse of government funds and good intentions, the support will be in kind in form of inputs and not cash as was the practice in the past.
“The forceful closure of all International borders, necessitated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, has made it evident that Nigeria can conveniently and sustainably feed itself,” he said.
The minister had commenced his tour with a courtesy call on the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, where he pledged to support the state’s farming communities with rural roads, solar lighting and water holes so as to encourage and empower them to increase productivity.
He also promised to collaborate with the Lagos State Government in the fishing sector in order to tap the potential of its marine endowments so as to drastically reduce the importation of fish in the country.
In his response, Mr Sanwo-Olu, who received the minister in the company of his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, and other state officials, promised to collaborate with the federal government not only in the fishing sector but also other areas.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, while recognising agriculture as a critical component of development, stated that he will complement the FG’s effort when he completes his project, the largest rice mill in Nigeria with a capacity to mill approximately 30 million Metric Tons of rice per annum.
“This will help Nigeria focus more on exportation of rice and downward review of prices at the retail market,” he said.
According to him, Lagos State is presumably the largest retail market for agricultural products as well as the largest enabler in the industry with Dangote Fertilizer Plant being cited in its domain.
In another engagement over dinner, Mr Nanono and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Abdulkadir Mu’azu, had interacted with agro-input dealers in Lagos to discuss quality, affordability and availability of fertiliser in the country.
Dangote Group and other fertilizer blending companies, Premium Agro Limited, Elephant Group and Kewalram Group, stated that raw materials for fertiliser blending, most especially ammonium phosphate, is the major challenge facing them.
Meanwhile, the Dangote Group is considering the exploration of local sources for the raw materials which they are hopeful and confident that once the domestic source is remedied, the problem of fertiliser shortfall will become history in the country.
Overwhelmed with this revelation, Mr Nanono said that with the impressive strategies initiated by the Dangote Group, the outcome will change the narrative of agriculture, food production/fertilizer availability and the nation’s economy for good before the end of 2020.