The Federal Government of Nigeria through its ministry of agriculture has started rolling out strategies to alleviate iminent hunger in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and insecurity.
Dr. Ernest A. Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, disclosed this while declaring open the 44th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) which kicked off in Abuja yesterday.
TheFact Nigeria gathered that prices of agricultural products skyrocketed this year with some even tripling their previous prices, hence plunging people into hunger.
According to Dr. Umakhihe, the NCARD which theme is ” Nigeria’s Agriculture and Food Security in the face of COVID – 19, Floods and Insecurity ” is geared primarily towards assessing the effects of extant policies and programmes, fine tuning existing strategies and shaping initiatives for agricultural development in Nigeria.
This he said is so because the arising challenges from COVID- 19 ,floods and Insecurity has coveinently placed Agriculture as spring board for socio economic recovery, stabilisation and growth in the face of food Insecurity.
In his welcome address, Mr. Ibe Prospect, the Federal Capital Territory Secretary of Agriculture, noted that the coming of COVID -19 was a wakeup call for a new beginning in agriculture because it showed that nations who are unable to sustain their internal food supply may not survive in times of grave demand posed by disasters like COVID – 19 .
Speaking at the meeting, Abdul – Azeez Olumiywa stated that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation ( FAO), and World Food Programme (WFP), in recent reports stated that ” acute hunger is set to soar in over 20 countries without urgent and scaled- up assistance of which Yemen, South Sudan and Northern Nigeria top the list “.
The report ascribed the causative factors to Insecurity ( conflict other forms of violence), COVID – 19 and climactic extremes especially delays in the onset of rainfall as a result of climatic change.
In recognising these challenges, Dr Umakhihe stated that being aware and cautious of the impact of COVID- 19 on the global community, as well as climatic change, flooding and Insecurity that is posing a threat to global food security and Nigeria in particular, stakeholders in the 44th NCARD should consider themselves as engine room and should deliberately put strategies in place and explore linkages for increase in production, processing and marketing within the agribusiness ecosystem, to avert food crisis and engender food sufficiency for the growing Nigerian population.
The Permanent Secretary stated that the Federal Government is committed towards implementing the framework of the National Economic Sustainability Plan and the Nigerian Agricultural Technology and Innovation Plan as a strategy for food resilience and economic development.
He highlighted the Federal Government’s efforts in the sector to include: “the provision of Mechanization, inputs to farmers, training of extension agents on extension service delivery in crop, fishery and livestock value chain activities and construction of mini earth dam for irrigation activities “.
Dr. Umakhihe informed that “others are the facilitation of rice, milk, Cassava Processing plants, Bush clearing, farmers Market, Commercial pasture plots, Windmill powered boreholes and Rural roads. Similar is the conduct of Aerial spray against seasonal invasion of quelea birds in the North East and North West frontline States to migrate losses “.
He emphasized the commitment of the ministry “to be tied to the commodity value chain concept of strengthening sectorial linkages, Import substitution initiatives, value added Processing and Export oriented activities in the country”.
Umakhihe stressed the importance of sustaining the collaboration on agribusiness initiatives to facilitate incentives to researchers, farmers and processors geared towards increase in agricultural output and match National requirements.
He pointed out that “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 Nigeria “.
Other speakers at the meeting included Prof. Gbolagade Ayoola (lead presenter), Engr. Aleode Isedu, Nasir Yammama, Dr. Jinandu Maina.