We Must Avert Civil Unrest Caused by Food Insecurity, Poverty—Nanono

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By Dipo Olowookere

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Mohammad Sabo Nanono, has stressed the need for Nigeria to avert civil unrest caused by food insecurity and poverty.

He said this has become very important as a result of the population growth rate of the nation, which he said was not at par with the agricultural productivity rate.

According to him, there must be a balance between the two as Nigeria, which reportedly has a population of over 200 million, is projected to have 450 million people in the year 2050.

While speaking at the unveiling of Sampea-20T cowpea seed to farmers in Kano on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, the Minister described an increase in agricultural productivity as the key determinant for socio-economic transformation.

He noted that an improvement in agricultural productivity can take millions of people out of food insecurity and low-income status to food secured and improved living standards.

Mr Nanono, who was represented by the Executive Secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Prof. Garba Hamidu Sharubutu, said agriculture has the capability to transform Nigeria’s economy to meet the growing demands for food, nutrition, industry and jobs.

He expressed happiness over the presence of stakeholders in the agricultural sector at the event, noting that “your presence here today and your commitment to this project is a testament to the vision you share for Nigeria that ‘grows more food and grows better food.”

The Minister said the event was a result of the outstanding 10-year collaborative research effort aimed to address the persistent insect pest damage to cowpea, which is estimated to have caused 20-80 per cent yield losses in cowpea.

The development and release of Pod Borer Resistant variety of cowpea (Sampea 20T) address this problem in a sustainable way, he said.

“I have been reliably informed that during the 2020 cropping season, on-farm demonstration trials of SAMPEA 20-T were conducted in 28 sites across Adamawa, Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, and Plateau states,” he added.

According to him, farmers who participated in the trials confirmed the agronomic superiority of Sampea-20T and the high yield performance of this variety resulted in high demand for seeds by farmers.

This discovery, he said, has keyed perfectly into our desire to promote quick or early maturing crops in order to best the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic so as to promote large scale stable food production.

Mr Nanono emphasised the need for a steady supply of quality seed of this variety to the overwhelming farmers, stating that, “This is because farmers buy seeds for the perceived benefits of higher yield, secured market and resistance to pests, which Sampea 20T provides all.”

He further called on quality assurance at all levels of seed multiplication from the breeder to certified seeds and developed an effective marketing and distribution strategy that will ensure the seeds reach each and every prospective farmer.

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