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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Govts mobilise farmers nationwide for wet season farming

Government at all levels have started equipping farmers with agricultural inputs in order to facilitate this year’s wet season farming and improve yields, a survey indicates.

Sen. Abubakar Kyari
Sen. Abubakar Kyari, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security

Respondents, who spoke across the country, said that such farm inputs would go a long a way in boosting food security and addressing food inflation.

Some of the stakeholders also expressed concerns on the rising cost of livestock feed and the urgent need to address the trend.

At the federal level, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, said the ministry was taking the lead.

Kyari said that the ministry would distribute 2.15 million bags of assorted fertilisers donated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to Nigeria farmers.

He said that the fertilisers donated by CBN comprised UREA, NPK and SSP valued at over N100 billion.

“Well, we have been donated 2.15 million bags of assorted fertilisers from the CBN.

“We are in the process of taking possession of those (fertilisers).

“Hopefully, by this April, we will start the distribution of these fertilisers especially in those areas that wet season farming has begun,” he said.

Kyari also revealed that the ministry was set to receive 500 tractors assembled by the John Deere Group to improve mechanised farming, increase production, and achieve food and nutrition security.

He said that the initiative was aimed at catalysing farming activities and fortify food and nutrition security in line with President Bola Tinubu’s emergency declaration on food security.

Kyari reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to improving food and nutrition security through mechanisation.

He said that the tractors would be accessible, available and affordable for small, large-scale, and cooperative farmers across the country.

In Edo State, Dr Samuel Owoicho, the State Coordinator of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, said the ministry had concluded plans to distribute inputs to farmers ahead of the farming season.

Owoicho also disclosed that seeds and irrigation equipment were part of the inputs to be distributed to the farmers.

According to him, 11 local government areas of Edo have been selected to benefit from the support.

“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security will be unveiling the distribution of inputs to farmers first week of April.

“Farmers from 11 local government areas of the state have been selected already.

“Each selected farmer is to be given three bags of fertilisers at 50 per cent subsidised rate,” he said.

In Bayelsa, Mr Ebiye Kalaku, a senior official in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the state government would soon provide farmers with inputs as support to cushion the effects of the current economic hardship in the country.

He listed the items to be distributed to farmers to include cartons of agro chemicals, plantain suckers, bundles of cassava stem, and cartons of day-old chicks.

Others were bags of poultry feeds, bags of fish feeds of different ranges, assorted edible tree crops, bags of NPK Fertilizer, packs assorted vegetable seedlings and economic trees.

In Delta, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) said it needed government to subsidise cost of fertilisers to boost food production in the state.

The State AFAN Chairman, Mr Richard Asenime, said that farmers were also in need of services of tractors for ease of cultivating their farmlands.

“It is no longer news that prices of fertilisers and other inputs have been impacted by inflation and as such, both federal and state governments need to support farmers to produce food this year,” he said.

According to him, farmers in the state have always enjoyed government support every year.

From the North-East, the Governments of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states have reiterated their commitment to using agriculture to tackle poverty as their citizens recover from the insurgency.

In Borno, Gov. Babagana Zulum, said he had inaugurated 312 tractors and assured farmers of subsidised fertiliser.

In Adamawa, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. David Jatau, said the Gov. Ahmadu  Fintiri administration had approved N456 million for the purchase of farm inputs to support small scale farmers for the 2024 farming season.

Jatau said that so far about 20,000 farmers had been registered for the intervention.

According to him, the support package included fertiliser, herbicides and improved seeds among others.

“A lot of changes and strategies have been put in place to support our small-scale farmers this year.

“The government is introducing climate smart agriculture, which will boost production and revenue for the farmers.

“The improved seeds when planted would mature early and won’t be affected by drought or inadequate rainfall before harvest,” he said.

In Yobe, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Ali Goneri, said the government would support 2,600 small scale farmers in the 17 local government areas of the state in the cropping season.

“We want to empower 15 farmers in each of the 178 wards in the state by providing them with a comprehensive set of agricultural inputs for crop development,’’ he said.

Still more, from Benue, Mr Thomas Unongo, the Director of Agricultural Services, State Ministry of Agriculture, said the ministry had made requisition on procurement of fertilisers and other farm inputs to the state’s executive council and was waiting for approval.

The director stated that procurement of fertilisers and other farm inputs involved processes that had already been initiated with the submission of memos to the council for approval.

He expressed optimism that the approvals would be out by next month.

According to him, Gov. Hyacinth Alia has a lot of interest in agriculture, and that is why he subsidised all farm inputs in 2023.

“The state government subsidised each input by 50 per cent; that is farmers paid 50 per cent while the state government paid 50 per cent,’’ he said.

In Plateau, Gov. Caleb Mutfwang promised to tackle insecurity to enable farmers go to their farms at all times.

He said that the current hardship in the country would only be addressed via farming.

“Let me encourage our people to go back to agriculture and as a government we will support this move.

“But there must be peace for people to farm, that is why we revived the Plateau Peace Building Agency and taken other measures that will guarantee the security of our farmers,” he said.

He said that in addition to the fertilisers, government had constructed 25 access roads from farms to markets across the 17 local government areas of the state to boost ease of movement of farm produce from the farms to the markets.

In Nasarawa, Mr Umar Dan’ Akano, Commissioner for Agriculture, said the government had approved the clearing of 10,000 hectares of farmland at Jangwa and Agwatashi areas of Lafia and Obi Local Government Areas for wet season farming to boost food production.

He said plan was on top gear to distribute farming inputs– fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides, seeds and seedlings to wet season farmers at subsidised rate to ensure food sufficiency.

According to the Agric Commissioner, the state government had earlier distributed 13 trucks of fertilisers alongside herbicides, insecticides, seeds, seedlings, knapsack sprayers among others at subsidised rate for dry season farmers.

On the high cost of animal feed, Aishatu Onuku, Director Animal Husbandry Services, Nasarawa State Ministry of Agriculture, said that farmers were being sensitised through extension services on the use of alternative feeds to reduce the cost.

In Kogi, the State Government said that all was set for the 2024 wet season farming toward boosting food production and security.

Mr Timothy Ojoma, the Commissioner for Agriculture, described Kogi as agrarian state feeding Nigerians with good food.

Ojoma said that Gov. Usman Ododo was a farmer friendly governor, who was very much interested in food production and security.

“We have concluded training for our enumerators for the forthcoming biometric capturing of all farmers across the state for useful data.

“We have mapped out for immediate intervention for 1,200 hectares of land just for cassava production this year; we have done same for Palm trees and Cashew,’’ he said.

In Oyo State, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye, said the state government had in the last three months, distributed maize and fish feeds to poultry and fish farmers.

Olaleye said that about 2,500 poultry and 1,000 fish farmers had so far benefited from the distribution.

The commissioner said that the government had procured assorted fertilisers, herbicides, maize, Soya beans and other farm inputs that would be distributed to crop farmers in early April.

He said that the beneficiaries of the government gesture did not need to be registered AFAN members but must be farmers.

The commissioner said that the state government had also earmarked lots of measures to assist farmers in order to bring down the cost of food and support farmers in the state.

“Recently the state government exonerated farmers from paying tax on farm produce in the next six months among other incentives given to farmers,” he said.

On its part, the Ogun State Government said it had a well-planned out programme of support for farmers in the state ahead of the 2024 planting season.

Mr Bolu Owotomo, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, said the state government recently sold various inputs like fertilisers,  maize  and hybicides to farmers in the Ogun Central Senatorial District at subsidised rate.

He said farmers in the Senatorial District were made to pay only 50 per cent of the prices of the inputs that they bought at the Ogun state Agro-Economic Transformation programme.

“This programme will be replicated in the other two Senatorial Districts immediately after the Easter celebration because we have plans to empower no fewer than 2000 farmers,” he said.

In Bauchi, Mr Mohammed Salihu, Director of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, said the state initiated viable agriculture transformation programmes to boost productivity through comprehensive farmer support services.

Salihu said the programmes were designed to accelerate crop and livestock production, encourage farmer enterprising skills, and value addition to create market for the produce.

He said the programmes were part of strategies adopted to enhance food security, address hunger and poverty among citizens of the state.

The director said the state government constituted a committee to gather inputs and make recommendations towards addressing food insecurity in the state.

In Jagawa,  Mr Hamisu Gumel, the media aide to Gov. Umar Namadi, said the state planned to expand the scope of wheat/rice cultivation programme from 150,000 to 300,000 hectres next cropping season.

He said the programme was designed to encourage agriculture productivity, uplift livelihoods and boost state revenue base.

Namadi said the programme was being implemented in collaboration between the state, Federal Government and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

“We also prepared to go for massive cultivation of rice, currently about 105,000 farmers indicated interest this coming farming season.

“The state is expecting between 150,000 and 200,000 hectares of rice cultivation alone,” he said.

He said that the bank would support rice farmers in the state.

According to Gumel, the state government will provide inputs to the farmers at 40 per cent subsidy in the 2024 cropping season.

In Gombe, Malam Inuwa Salisu, a maize farmer, said that early distribution of fertilisers and inputs would encourage farmers to produce more and mitigate post-harvest losses.

“It is important for the state government or any stakeholders to always provide inputs in good time.

“This will help us plan because inputs are expensive, and many farmers now cultivate based on available inputs not the number of hectares you have.

“If you plan to cultivate five hectares and because of funds, you were only able to cultivate three in spite of having up to eight hectares of farmlands.

“When the government distributes inputs in July, many farmers may have concluded their arrangement and may have planted their crops,” he said.

In Ebonyi, Dr Ignatius Unah, the Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Ebonyi chapter, urged the federal and state governments to step up plans to provide farm inputs for farmers in the state.

Unah noted that provision of agro inputs for farmers would go a long way to avert impending food crisis.

“Well, we are yet to have the farm inputs from the federal and state governments.’’

He said that the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mrs Nkechinyere Iyioku, had x-rayed the good plans to assist farmers with fertiliser and other inputs.

“We believe the government of Ebonyi has the plans to boost agriculture in the state.’’

On accessibility to farm inputs and fertilisers in the state, Unah said that the cost of the commodities in the market had made it difficult for them.

“We believe the government have plans to subsidise these inputs in order to overcome food security and poorest of the farmers will have the opportunity to put crops in the farm as well as access to agro chemical inputs like fertiliser among others,” he said.

In Enugu, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro Industrialisation, Mr Patrick Ubru, said the state would procure farm inputs and subsidise it for registered farmers in the state.

He said the office was open for farmers to register, which they did on daily basis.

According to him, the state is preparing for a pre-farming training for farmers to launch the state into new farming season and at the end of it, inputs like seedlings, fertilisers, sprayers and others will be distributed to the registered farmers.

He explained that the essence of the registration was to identify real farmers from political farmers.

“This is why we are doing validation of farmers after registration to ensure that the farm they said they have, belong to them; and during distribution, we go back to our database.

“In Enugu State, one of our major crops is cassava and we cultivated over 500 hectares of cassava for bioetheanol value chain development which Enugu State is a pilot for the project,’’ he said.

Ubru said there was need to encourage private individuals to establish feed mills to help push down prices.

In Lagos State, Mr Adewale Alade, Director, Agricultural Development Authority (ADA), said that the state government would unveil various aspects of urban farming to encourage residents to grow food during the raining season.

Alade said that urban farming was one the measures government was adopting during the planting season.

He said that government wanted every household to be able to cultivate one thing or the other.

He said a lot of preparation was ongoing for the raining season farming in the state.

“We are launching various aspects of urban farming where every household will be able to cultivate one thing or the other.

“The government is getting farmers prepared for the season by embarking on pre-season at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Ibadan.

“We are preparing our farmers through various training on how to approach the season.’’

On distribution of inputs and grains to farmers, Alade said that Lagos was working with the Federal Government to ensure the inputs got to the right beneficiaries.

“We are working with the Federal Government; we have farmers already listed to benefit from various kinds of inputs like fertilisers, seeds, pesticides and others.”

“All these are on ground while the state government is also working on its part to support farmers in various aspects too,” he said.

On the rising cost of livestock feed, an agriculture consultant and co-founder of Corporate Farmers International, Mr Akin Alabi, said that to ease the cost of livestock feed, the government needed to prioritise the subsidisation of agro-inputs.

In Akwa Ibom, Dr Offiong Offor, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the state government had scaled up the quantity of farm inputs for distribution to farmers.

She added that more farmers would get farm inputs, depending on the crops of interest.

Offor said that the government had assisted farmers in land preparation by leasing out farm equipment at a reduced rate.

“Taking off the cost of land preparation and inputs from the farmers is a big relief, which will maximally increase production and profit margins,” she said.

Equally, in Rivers, the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to food security through the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) programme.

The State Programme Manager, Mr Vitalis Gbule, said that the strategy would guarantee bumper harvest in 2024 and beyond.

He said that as part of implementation of the poverty reduction strategy, the Federal Government recently distributed farm inputs to 250 verified farmers drawn from the 23 local government areas of the state.

‘’The input included seedlings, fertilisers, agro chemicals, fish feeds, poultry feeds and some hybrid poultry birds,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) said it had distributed agricultural inputs to farmers in Abia, Kebbi and Yobe.

NALDA’s Executive Secretary, Mr Paul Ikonne, said the inputs were aimed at assisting farmers to maximise crop cultivation for improved yields and increased food production.

He said that the beneficiaries in Abia and Yobe received NALDA-branded bags containing high grade fertiliser, herbicides and improved maize seeds.

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