• Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Flooding: Nigeria gets IFAD’s $5m for dry season farming

FG to launch Integrated Export Control Plan for food safety requirement

In a bid to avert food crises in Nigeria, the International Fund for Agricultural Development( IFAD) has approved a grant of $5m to support dry season agriculture in Nigeria, following the recent devastating floods that ravaged parts of the country.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Abubakar , disclosed this while briefing journalists shortly after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council ( FEC), presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday.

The minister who spoke on what is being done to avert food crises in Nigeria, stated that government has plans for an intensive dry season farming in the country.

“We have gotten funding from the African Development Bank, we have some money also in our own provision. Also, the International Fund for Agricultural Development ( IFAD), has also just donated a grant of $5 million,” he said.

“So, we have some money for dry season farming. Also, in areas of conflict, we are recruiting additional rangers. I told you in another forum that we have Agro Rangers that provide some measure of security on farm lands. We are recruiting more to do that.”

He revealed that government is intensifying farming in areas that have no conflict to make up for those areas that we are getting little or no access.

“So the thing is the government, Mr. President, has specifically directed that we do everything humanly possible to make sure there is no food shortage in the country and I can tell you, there will not be any food shortage,” he said.

“Between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Central Bank and other private investors in agriculture, there’s enough grains in our own silos and in CBN silos, that will cater for any eventualities and currently, the Humanitarian Ministry is picking up some grains from us to distribute to the needy. So I can assure you, by the grace of God, there will be no food shortage.”

Providing preliminary reports on the effect of the floods, the Minister noted that reports show that Nigeria has lost some farmlands.

“For example, I can give you one. The Olam, which is a private organization, has a rice mill that has been totally submerged, about 4000 hectares,” he said.

“So there are farmlands that are definitely damaged. But what are we going to do, like I said, is to use dry season farming to compensate for this loss. In fact, we are planning to even produce twice during this dry season farming for some of the crops.”

The Minister also revealed that the federal government has unveiled a revised emergency response policy to tackle diseases associated with livestocks, particularly bird flu.

Abubakar recalled how the country lost over 1.2million birds as a result of the bird flu which struck the country in 2006.

He stated that over the years, the livestock industry has grown to a population of over 165million birds, averaging N1.6trillion in revenue and 70 percent of the rural dwellers actively dominating the industry.

Read also: Flood victims face loss of claims on underinsurance, ignorance

Abubakar said: “Today the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development presented a memo on the Revised Comprehensive Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Nigeria, (the Animal Component).

“If you recall, bird flu has been something that we see and hear about in Asia, but of course, in 2006, Nigeria experienced the very first one and at the time, we lost about 1.2 million birds, chicken.

“This is a highly pathogenic viral infection that is so contagious and Zoonotic, meaning it can go from animals to humans and can cause death and can cause sickness. So the previous policy was put together by experts back in 2005, in order to contain, quickly, any kind of outbreak of bird flu. But the sector has grown so much with additional importation of maybe new and exotic birds.

“Therefore, the need to revise this policy and produce a new one that will conform with the current happenings in the industry. That is why this new policy is being put forward by the ministry and it’s the same, I mean, it’s called the Comprehensive Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan to contain any future occurrence.

“This industry is an industry that has grown to have a population of over 165 million birds and is an industry of about N1.6trillion. This industry also is really largely populated by rural dwellers, about 70%.

“So the objective here is to make sure we have a robust preparedness plan, that in case of any additional outbreak, even currently, we have sporadic periodic outbreaks that is plaguing the industry, which is why we have to upgrade to make sure we’re always ready to move on.

“The addition to this new policy, also, is the establishment of centers that will cater for issues of compensation to poultry farmers in the country. This is basically what the new policy is all about and has just been approved by the Federal Executive Council.”

The Council also approved a contract sum of N3.5billion for the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) including other partners to strengthen space technology in the country.

Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Adeleke Mamora explained that the approval is meant to secure partnership on the upgrade, equipping, operating and marketing of Space Museum, and Planetarium.

He said the buildings to house the museum has been in place since 2018, but paucity of funds to put the necessary equipment in place had stalled the project since then.

According to the Minister, when the project comes on stream fully, it has the prospects of providing jobs for over 200 people. Including learning experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Mamora also noted that following the directive of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari at the National Space Council meeting, chaired by Mr. President himself in 2022, he had directed that the Director General should explore and exploit collaboration with the private sector.