Nigerian government boosts Agriculture with N600billion stimulus package

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In line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s assurance to focus on agriculture, among others, no less than N600billion has been approved as stimulus to ensure food security in the country.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, said the stimulus package would target small scale farmers, to ensure food security and sustainability.

He said the Federal Government’s package would target farmers nationwide and was expected to begin with an initial 2.4 million farmers across the country.

In a statement signed by the Director of Information of the ministry, Mr Theodore Ogaziechi, yesterday, the minister said to avoid abuse of government funds and good intentions, the support would be in form of inputs and not cash as was the practice in the past.

The minister added that the closure of all international borders, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, had made it evident that Nigeria could conveniently and sustainably feed itself.

Nanono, who was on tour of Lagos state, including also visited Dangote Refinery, noted however, that he would consider exploration of local source for the raw materials which would hopefully solve the problem of fertiliser shortfall in the country.

On a courtesy call on the governor of Lagos State, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, he promised to support the state farming communities with rural roads, solar lighting and water holes to increase productivity.

Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu promised to collaborate with the Federal Government not only in the fishing sector, but mechanised farming as well.

The governor said this would be actualised when the largest rice mill in Nigeria with a capacity to mill approximately 30 million metric tonnes of rice per annum was completed.

He said it would help Nigeria focus more on exportation of rice and downward review of prices at the retail market.

The governor said Lagos State had a large retail market for agricultural products as well as the largest enabler in the industry with Dangote Fertiliser Plant cited in its domain.

For their part, Dangote Group and other fertiliser blending companies, including Premium Agro Limited, Elephant Group and Kewalram Group complained that raw materials for fertiliser blending were a challenge.

They said ammonium phosphate, particularly, was a major challenge.

Dangote Group, however, assured it would consider exploration of local source for the raw materials which would hopefully solve the problem of fertiliser shortfall in the country.

The statement reads in part: “The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, has revealed that the Federal Government has resolved to inject over N600 billion as stimulus response into the agriculture sector, targeting small scale farmers, to ensure food security and sustainability.

“Nanono had explained that the well over N600 billion stimulus response which targets farmers nationwide will take off with an initial 2.4 million farmers in the first instance.

“He also noted that 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.” Meanwhile, according to the statement as a result of closure of international borders as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria now is food self-sufficient,

“The Minister added that 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.”

The statement also disclosed that in another engagement, the Minister and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, had interaction with agro-input dealers in Lagos, where they discussed quality, affordability and availability of fertilizer across the country.

“The big player, Dangote Group and other fertilizer blending companies, Premium Agro Limited, Elephant Group and Kewalram Group stated that raw materials for fertilizer blending, most especially ammonium phosphate, is the major challenge they face.

“However, the cherry news is that Dangote Group is considering the exploration of local source for the raw materials which they are hopeful and confident that once the domestic source is remedied, the problem of fertilizer shortfall will become history in the country.

“The Minister was overwhelmed with this revelation and is of the opinion 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 close of 2020”, the statement added.

Sanwo –Olu was represented by the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat.

(Daily Asset)

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