The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has unveiled its 2024 agenda for the agricultural sector, with the goal of boosting food security, improving employment, ensuring economic growth, and eradicating poverty.
Speaking to the media on Monday, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Aliya Abdullahi, stated that the Ministry is closely aligned with President Tinubu’s agenda, which prioritizes food security.
Abdullahi emphasized that the Ministry has developed a comprehensive 2024 plan to improve the entire agricultural system, with a strong focus on achieving food security. He stressed the need to drive production and processing, thereby reducing post-harvest losses, a major problem for farmers. To achieve this, the Ministry intends to streamline existing programs in areas like value chain development, seed production, processing, livestock, and input provision.
Abdullahi also highlighted the “National Agricultural Growth Scheme agro-pocket,” funded by the African Development Bank, as a key initiative to increase production and bring down food prices. He further mentioned the Agro-pocket Project, which promotes dry season farming and prioritizes wheat production, as another measure to combat food shortages.
He expressed disappointment that Nigeria, despite its internal capacity, currently only produces half a million metric tons of wheat while consuming over 6 million tons annually. He emphasized the need to empower wheat farmers in the 15 wheat-producing states, which include all northern states except Nasarawa, as well as Benue, Kwara, and Kogi.
Beyond wheat, Abdullahi listed other food security crops such as rice, maize, cassava, millet, sorghum, and soybean, with ongoing efforts already focused on cassava cultivation.
“In order to hit the ground running for 2024, we’re trying to maximize available opportunities like dry season farming, areas where there are no terrorists, areas with adequate farm land and available farmers that we can support to go into irrigation farming. We will kick start wheat in February, right now preparations are in top gear for maize, rice and cassava.
However, “Various state governments would come on board because they’re stakeholders, so we engage them and in the process they provide us farmers and land.”
Speaking further, Abdullahi also revealed the Ministry’s plan to bring in ICT enabled extension services, support soil tests for farmers and also address the issue of political farmers as measures are being put in place to target and support the actual farmers who are truly tilling the land. These are the farmers we intend to help, farmers that have visible hectares of land, “What we want to do is to make sure that if we say we are going to plant 100,000 hectares, let’s be sure that we know where the 100,000 hectares are.”
On the aspect of post harvest losses, “We are looking at how we’re going to increase the aspect of valorization of value addition to process some of these commodity because the moment you are able to process some of these commodities properly, it means you’ll be reducing their spoilage and bringing more, processed products which farmers can earn income from.
“All things being equal, another aspect is the National Strategic Food Reserve program which is actually being reviewed and we’ll also take advantage of that if there is surplus because remember for the Strategic Food Reserve system, it is designed to modulate so that if there is glut, we’re able to take in, then when the price is going high, we’ll release so that the price can be stabilized.”
Furthermore he urged the youths to embrace agriculture and also encourage stakeholders to keep up the good work.