By Doris Esa
The Federal Government has distributed free Agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers in Maiduguri, Borno, to boost Agricultural production in the state and Nigeria in general.
The Chief Information Officer, Mr Ezeaja Ikemefuna, in the ministry, made this known in a statement on Tuesday, in Abuja.
Ikemefuna said Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, disclosed this at the roll out ceremony of the distribution of free agricultural inputs to farmers in Maiduguri.
He quoted the minister as saying that the smallholder farmers operate on little but very significant plots of land for which they toiled all year round producing basic food and cash crops and contribute over 80 per cent to the national food supply.
Shehuri said the Federal Government would continue to support smallholder farmers as well as the physically challenged farmers in Borno, to boost Agricultural production in the state and Nigeria in general.
The minister added that the smallholder farmers would play a major role in ensuring food security and towards averting food scarcity in the 2021 dry season farming which is on-going.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that smallholder farmers must be supported with seeds, Agro chemicals and small Agro equipment to rekindle their hope and accelerate their recovery process from the economic loss suffered during the period of Pandemic.
“Extension Services has been rejigged to serve farmers so that there is seamless and unbroken food supply chain across the country.
“These efforts had since paid off as our food requirement is mostly produced locally with little or no consideration for food imports since COVID-19 set in,” he said.
The minister reiterated the commitment of the ministry towards making the country self sufficient in food production through appropriate Inputs distribution which are available to farmers on subsidy that ranges from 50 per cent to 100 per cent.
According to him, this initiative to a large extent has helped the farmers to increase their profits and earn income to families economically.
He observed that in spite of the security challenges in the state, farmers had demonstrated resilience by optimizing productivity to contribute to national food security.
Shehuri said that the Federal Government would continue to provide the much needed support to further encourage them towards boosting food production and providing rural infrastructure to support their efforts.
The minister further said that the Rural Infrastructures were mainly rural roads, solar boreholes, street lights and rural markets were distributed across the three senatorial districts.
” The items provided for farmers are ; certified Rice seeds – faro 44(24MT), Maize foundation seed (15MT), Cashew nuts (1,5MT) Groundnut foundation (2.5MT),Cashew seeds (1.5MT), Castor foundation (1MT), 3HP irrigation water pumps among others.
“It should be noted that this is 3rd in the series of the distribution of the Ministry’s palliative incentives to farmers in the North East after Gombe and Bauchi states that were just concluded last week.
“So far 12 states have benefitted Nationwide with quality Inputs to sustain the food production, create jobs and the grow the economy from rural base,” he said,
The minister disclosed that in the roll out distribution exercise, “at least 35 per cent of the agricultural inputs were targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women.”
“This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly,” he said
He said the Lake Chad Research Institute, located in Maiduguri was available for state government and other stakeholders in application and updating of knowledge in key areas of Agriculture and also centre of excellence designated for wheat research in Sub Sahara Africa.
In his remark, Borno Gov. Prof. Babagana Zulum, represented by the Chief of Staff, Prof. Isa Hussein ,lauded the Agricultural policies and visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in the sector geared towards job creation, food sufficiency and economic growth .
He appealed to the farmers to make judicious use of the inputs strictly for farming and not to sale the Agricultural Inputs.
Speaking, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, Mrs Karima Babangida, thanked Zulum and other stakeholders for their support.
She urged the farmers to key in the value chain policy of the Ministry which is aimed towards achieving food sufficiency, increase earnings and job creation for the farmers.
In another development, the minister inaugurated the Bolari Rural Modern Market in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council.
At the event , he said that the modern market would ensure that the farmers had their food production at identified spots which would increase sales and earnings.
He also visited the Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri whose mandate is to improve the yield and disease resistance of Millet, Wheat and Barley and experiment different systems of farming in the north east to identify which one is suitable for each crop.
The minister asked the management of the institute to be self sufficient and explore alternative financial options of funding beyond focusing solely on budgetary allocation. (NAN)