The Federal Government has commenced the distribution of agricultural inputs and quality seeds to encourage smallholder farmers in Plateau and boost production.
Mr Ezeaja Ikemefuna, a Chief Information officer, in the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known in a statement.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said that the inputs and quality seeds would stimulate local production of food to achieve self-sufficiency, all season farming, attract investments, create jobs and enhance the livelihood of farming families in the plateau and environs.
Abubakar said this at the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers on Thursday in Plateau.
He said that the Agricultural sector had become one of the major contributors to the country’s economy, contributing about 25 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic product (GDP) and smallholder farmers accounting for about 70 per cent of national food production.
“This was achieved through the implementation of strategic policies such as the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), the Green Imperative, Agricultural Promotion Policy, as well as the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), among others.
“The impact of these policies and programmes manifested during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a lot of disruptions along the Agricultural Value Chains, leading to global trade disruptions, resulting in heavy economic losses to farmer’s livelihood,” he said.
The minister said to cushion the effect of the pandemic, the Ministry designed a support programme targeting small-holder farmers to enable them get back to the farms and continue production to sustainably rebuild their production activities and their means of livelihood.
“This is to enhance farming family income, create jobs and generate wealth,” he said.
Abubakar appealed to the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the inputs in order to enhance food production in our dear country.
The minister also appreciated the resilience of the farmers and urged them to key into the various intervention programmes of the Federal Government.
He lauded the Plateau State Government and Development Partners at both National and sub-national levels for their continuous support to the present administration in its focus towards achieving food sufficiency.
In his remarks, the Governor of Plateau, Simon Lalong, appreciated the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Government for the exercise in the state, saying that it would cushion the effect of the COVID–19 pandemic, promote dry season farming, boost production and generate income for the farmers and the state at large.
“As a government, we have done so much in addressing the problems of farmers-herder conflicts as well as guaranteeing the safety of our farmers.
“Plateau State is among few States which is in the process of implementing modern ranching which is encapsulated in the National Livestock Transformation Program (NLTP).
“We have sent a draft bill to the State House of Assembly which is receiving the desired attention and will hopefully be passed soon,” he said.
Also, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, who was represented by the Acting Director, Women Development in the Ministry, Funke Oladupo, appealed to the women smallholder farmers to ensure that the agricultural inputs were utilised towards improving their livelihood and boost production.
The agricultural inputs and quality seeds distributed were 99 bags of Yam seeds, 100 bags of Samnut, 100 bags of cow pea seeds, 80 bags of Samaz seeds, 80 bags of potatoes seeds, 20 bags of Cashew Nuts, 100 bags of maize seeds,and 1,310 oil palm seedlings.
The equipment included 100 Pineapple Peeler, 46 Weeders, 27 Potato juicer Machine, 199 Knapack Sprayers, 20 Bag Closer, 83 3″ Water Pump, 23 Solar Water Pump, 20 Grinding Machine, and 44 Potato Row Planter among others.