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May 27, 2024
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FG Reiterates Commitment  to Agricultural Reforms

The Vice President, Kashim Shettima, has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to agricultural reforms aimed at bolstering production and improving soil management practices.

Shettima made these remarks during the launch of a groundbreaking agricultural initiative in Nigeria known as ‘Soil Values,’ held on Tuesday in Abuja.

Represented by his senior special adviser on Agribusiness and Productivity, Kingsley Uzoma, Shettima stated that Agriculture is a cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy, contributing significantly to the  national GDP. However, it faces various constraints hindering its progress.

Addressing Nigeria’s challenges with soil degradation and nutrient depletion, Shettima underscored the pivotal role of agriculture in the nation’s economy, contributing 24 per cent to the GDP. He stressed the urgent need to confront issues such as land degradation, erosion, and drought, particularly in the Sahel region.

“Land degradation, erosion, and drought are exacerbating due to over-exploitation, deforestation, and overgrazing, particularly in the northern regions.”

He further highlighted Nigeria’s unwavering support for the soil values programme and its potential to empower farmers and revolutionize agricultural practices in the region, while calling on other participating nations to collaborate effectively in implementing the initiative.

He said: “Nigeria is proud to be part of this program, which will truly benefit our farmers, as well as farmers in other countries involved, who have been facing this soil fertility problem for years.

“We are truly committed to supporting the effective and sustainable implementation of the program in Nigeria. We also invite all the other countries included to put in place various mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of the Soil Values programme activities,” he noted.

The Chief Executive Officer of IFDC, Henk Duijn, emphasized the significance of long-term investments in soil health, urging governments and donors to prioritize funding for initiatives with sustainable outcomes.

Duijn highlighted Soil Values’ collaborative approach, aiming to partner with regional and national institutions to maximize impact and implementation efficiency.

The CEO stated, “Given the current situation of soil degradation in the Sahel, investment in soil health will take a long time to produce visible and tangible results. Governments and donors must prioritize funding for soil health initiatives that offer long-term benefits.

“Soil Values have developed an approach not to operate in splendid isolation, nor to impose activities onto the Sahelian countries. Rather, it seeks cooperation with large institutional investors at the regional level, such as the World Bank and other development banks, and through national programs with local institutions.

“This will create significant leverage to collectively strengthen the implementation capabilities of local and international institutions and to create the largest impact from the investments made.”

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, urged stakeholders to embrace innovative interventions to combat declining soil fertility.

He emphasised Nigeria’s readiness to collaborate with international partners in implementing the Soil Values program.

Represented by Bello Mohammed, Director, Department of Agricultural Land & Climate Change Management Services, Kyari affirmed, “Nigeria extends its hand in collaboration with international partners. We are committed to implementing the Soil Values program, and stakeholders should adopt these new interventions to address the challenges of poor soil fertility.”

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