• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

FG targets 135m MT output of staple crops in 2024

…To allow paddy rice importation, peg import duty exchange rate

To tackle the food security challenges facing the country, the federal government has said it plans to boost the production of staple crops to 135 million metric tons (MT) in 2024.

The target will see that the output of staple crops grown by individual farmers increased by six percent from 127 million metric (MT) in 2023 to 135 million MT in 2024 cumulative aggregates of smallholder farmers in the country.

To tame accelerating inflation which food is its main driver, Nigeria plans to open its border to the importation of rice paddy by millers, suspend import duty and VAT to specific items, peg import duty exchange rate and priortise productive spending.

The plan which is also aimed at attaining food and nutrition security is stated in the recently launched Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan (ASAP) document – a strategic initiative designed to tackle the key challenges impeding reform efforts and to stimulate growth across various economic sectors.

“Increased output of staple crops grown by individual farmers by 6 percent from 127 million MT in 2023 to 135 million MT in 2024 and bolster production by an additional 4.9 million MT via the private sector participation,” the document said.

According to the policy document, the government plans to support farmers by improving their access to mechanisation and increasing the efficiency and productivity of farm operations.

The government also plans to approve the immediate importation of 10,000 MT of rice and maize seeds to cultivate 100,000 hectares (ha) for rice and 500,000ha for maize, while onboarding two million farmers across four chains to enhance productivity and sustainability.

The document linked the country’s decade-high food inflation – 40 percent in March 2024 – to the shortfall in the production of key staple crops, the naira devaluation that has made imported food costlier and the high rate of undocumented exports through the country’s porous borders.

“Significant supply deficits on four of six staple crops: maize, wheat, cowpea & sorghum,” the document said.

It attributed the country’s low food production to “low skilled farmers, insufficient inputs – fertiliser, low levels of mechanisation, climate change affecting farming in key areas and land use conflicts.”

It noted that the provision of critical infrastructure is a prerequisite for enabling Nigeria to stimulate economic growth and to reach the targets for economic diversification and food security.

To bridge the infrastructural gaps and aid food production, the country plans to “develop National Grain Reserves framework building on 2023 AGRA Study, open up 30,000 hectares of new irrigable land for dry season farming and build and rehabilitate 50 km of roads in rural based farming communities.”

Also, it plans to build an early warning system for farmers and update NBS’ agriculture census and surveys.

The government also targets to train an average of 1000 extension workers per state for 36 states of Nigeria and FCT on modern farm practices concerning key grains and tubers such as maize, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava, yam and tomato.

The ASAP document stated that the government will develop a plan to deploy trained extension workers to train farmers across 36 states and FCT.

To address the continuous surge in the prices of inputs and lack of personnel in the sector, the government plans to train farmers on climate-smart agricultural techniques, audit the national seed system and provide inputs to farmers using an e-wallet system.

Others are to improve fertiliser usage to 25kg/hectare, establish mechanisation hub and farming community and capacity development for tractor operators, farmers and service.

For the livestock subsector, the government plans to develop pastures, grazing lands and ranches while improving the genetic quality of breeds and health and disease management among others.

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