By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has disclosed that is looking to create up to 10 million jobs in the agricultural sector through the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP).
This came from the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Muhammad Nanono, on Tuesday in Abuja at a ministerial press briefing ahead of the 2020 World Food Day Celebration.
World Food Day is celebrated annually on October 16 in more than 150 countries to raise global awareness on issues of poverty and hunger. The theme of this year is Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.
The minister said the AFJP, a component of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), was launched in July to cultivate more land in each state and provide zero-interest loans to farmers, among others.
“The first phase of the scheme has produced over 1.1 million beneficiaries across all states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
”Out of the five million planned beneficiaries for AFJP, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has empowered 1,138,000 farmer-beneficiaries across the 36 states and the FCT under the first phase of implementation.
”Since the beginning of the 2020 farming season, the Ministry has distributed inputs in states across the country to boost food production. Nigeria, last year (2019) recorded a boost in the production of her major staple crops.
“According to the data from the Ministry, maize and rice production rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes (MMT) respectively last year,” he said.
The minister also said the present administration was not resting on its oars in addressing challenges of the country’s agricultural sector.
”The Federal Government through the Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) has set aside N600 billion as loan support to farmers across the country.
” No fewer than 2.4 million farmers are expected to benefit from the loan which has zero interest,” he said.
He noted that the gesture would support farmers in the country to improve their productivity aimed at boosting the country’s agricultural sector.
”The support was to complement the Federal Government policy on agriculture, which include promoting food security, improving farmers production and also increasing exportation,” he said.
Speaking on the recent flooding, Mr Nanono said about 12 States were affected, saying the most affected are Kebbi and Jigawa which are large scale producing rice states but clarified that the devastation in Jigawa was less compared to Kebbi.
The minister disclosed that the federal government would ensure that the dry season farmers were funded for the dry season to mitigate the effect of the flood.
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