Posted by News Express | 18 June 2021 | 471 times
Determined to put an end to ghost schemes and unscrupulous practices in the agricultural sector the federal government has created an online database to monitor the activities of farmers in the country. The online portal is targeting 10 million farmers across the country, in the take-off of the programme.
It initially targeted to cover 2.4 million farmers for government’s interventions.
The initiative would capture the bio data of the farmers and link with geographical information of their farm plots, crops and the volumes of production in the country, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammed Sabo Nanono, disclosed on Thursday during the 44th council meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development, held in Abuja.
“Although we initially set out to capture the data of 2.4 million farmers across the country, the results from the exercise have encouraged the Economic Sustainability Plan Team to expand the data capture to 10 million farmers,” the minister said. He added that the database will be “a platform for the Federal Government interventions going forward, putting an end to ghost schemes and other unscrupulous practices in the agricultural industry”.
Nanono said that the government was worried by the problems created by the emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic, such as floods and insecurity.
“Because of this the government has had to double its efforts into setting up necessary structure to address infrastructural deficiency, technology gaps, security challenges and extension inadequacy.
“This approach is believed to be the right one for achieving our desired economic diversification and national development,” Nanono explained in a statement signed by Chief Information Officer of the ministry, Ezeaja Ikemefuna.
He recalled that “as a stop-gap intervention ,we launched the Agric for Food and Jobs Program ,originally conceived as an input loan for smallholder farmers across several commodities including maize, rice, cotton, groundnut, sorghum ,cowpea ,soybean ,sesame ,cassava and oil-palm”.
According to Nanono “The scheme brought into a partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Commodity Association and Agricultural Platform Companies for effective facilitation. This we believe will not only improve production significantly but also aid in the off-taking of produce while providing input at reduced price due to economy of scale’’.
He stressed the importance of agricultural mechanization saying “agricultural productivity can only improve through mechanization of production activities. In our effort to improve agricultural production profile of the country, we have entered into a partnership with the government of Brazil through one of their foremost technology transfer, the Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV).”
The minster unveiled plan to create service centres in the 774 LGAs in the country by businessmen, with the aim of selling services to all categories of farmers to help improve their productivity.
He said they arrived at this because of the success of the partnership with Brazil. “This partnership has yielded an Agricultural Mechanization loan to the tune of 995 million euros. This shall be granted to Nigeria entrepreneurs to establish service centers across all the 774 Local Government of the country, selling services to all categories of farmers and thereby helping to improve their productivity.
“The services centers shall be either a Type 1, supporting production activities or Type 2, supporting processing and packaging activities,” he said.
Nanono also disclose that the ministry in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council has been working to exploit strategic advantage in the production of commodities like sesame, hibiscus ,cotton and sorghum to improve production protocols to conform with internationally acceptable standards, maintenance of an exporters’ directory and exporter certificate verification ‘portal’.
Despite the current food shortage, Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon Baba Shehuri, observed that “as matter of fact, local production of maize, rice, cassava, potatoes, yam and other staples steadily increased, it is also the same story in livestock, fisheries and dairy sector. The fact that we did not import food during lockdown era was a testimony that we can grow what we eat and eat what we produce”.
Also speaking, the Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, Hon. Muntari Mohammed Dandutse, stated the National Assembly would fast track the bills been raise as outcome or resolution of the NCARD towards achieving food security and job creation.
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