According to a statement issued by the federal government of Nigeria on Thursday, September 15, 2022, at the ongoing 45th regular meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development, in Jos, Plateau State, about 56 percent of the country’s arable land is being underutilized. The Minister of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, stated that Nigeria has a total of 79 million hectares of agricultural land, but only 44 percent of it is being cultivated; it also has 267 billion cubic meters fresh surface water and 37 million cubic meters of its 58 billion cubic meters underground water only stored in dams.
It has been calculated that annual rainfall in the country is between 300mm and 4,000mm. conversely, the country’s potential irrigable area in over 3 million hectares with below seven percent is currently in use. However, the minister affirmed that the government was trying its best possible to ensure the encouragement of agriculture. Some of the means employed by the government include the training of over 150,000 women and youths and the empowerment of about 140,000 on various agricultural crops, fisheries and livestock value chains: the training of about 200,000 farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and over 200,000 farmers on Farmer Business School (FBS).
NATIP as a medium of modernizing the agricultural sector.
According to recent reports from the National Bureau of Statistics, as stated by Abubakar, there is an indication that the agricultural sector topped the charts in a survey of seven sectors said to have added to the Nigeria economy in the second quarter (Q2) of 2022. It was recorded to have performed better than six other sectors which comprise Trade, Telecommunications, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Real Estate, Finance and Insurance. The chart also disclosed that Agriculture contributed 23.3 percent to the Q1, 2022 national GDP.
In order to enable the improvement of agricultural performance in the country, the minister stated that the federal government was fueling the strength of the linkage between research, agriculture and industry by the intensification of the commodity value chain development process. This process is under the guide of the new framework of the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP), 2022-2027, which was launched in August 2022. It aims at modernizing the agricultural sector in accordance with changing global food systems and supply chains.
Ministry of Agriculture to establish 100 processing centers in rural areas.
NATIP is referred to as the Ministry’s response to the present administration Agenda of the diversification of the country’s economy from petroleum oil-based to Agriculture and solid minerals. This policy is also considered as a successor policy of the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP), 2016-2020, established with a view to aid the development of priority value chains on the grounds of comparative ecological advantages across crops, livestock and fisheries sub-sectors in joint cooperation with the States Government.
To achieve its main objective, which is to ensure food security, generation of employment, and creation of wealth in the country, the ministry of agriculture pledges commitment to support the establishment of about 100 processing centers in rural communities across the country as part of the Green Imperative Project of a private-driven mechanization program. The head of the ministry further said that there would be a robust development of clusters, rural nodal centers, and rural cottage industries, as well as an establishment of six Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ), across the nation.
The President of Nigeria approved an intervention fund.
As a show of encouragement, the president of the federation has endorsed an intervention fund for the enablement of the 10 Nos large-scale rice mills with a combined minimum capacity of 320 MT per day in 10 states. The mills have their locations in Jigawa, Ogun, Kaduna, Adamawa, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Kano, Gombe, Niger, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Minister of State for Agriculture, Hon. Mustapha Shehuri, expressed optimism over the set objectives of the ministry. The Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, likewise commended the minister for his support in the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).