The Federal Government has developed the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), with which it plans to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local food production.
Andrew Kwasari, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture said that the impact of COVID-19 on the agriculture sector which has led to heightened panic, restrictions and lack of access to credit facilities especially for the small holder farmers has necessitated the for the plan.
Kwasari, who addressed the press in Abuja said that the plan aims at increasing locally grown food supply, while simultaneously creating employment opportunities in the Agriculture sector through investment.
According to him, “The project aims at providing zero interest finance to smallholder farmers, link farmers to markets for off-market through out growers schemes as well as enhance land productivity through good agronomic practices”.
“A vital sector affected by the virus is the Agricultural sector, with panic, restriction and lack of access to funding and relevant input impeding the farming process”.
“To this end, the Federal Government in collaboration with the State Governments through the federal ministry of Agriculture is set to launch a revolutionary agric-focused intervention scheme in the form of the Agric for Food and Jobs Plan”.
Speaking further, Kwasari said that the in collaboration with the N-Power Scheme, trained enumerators have been sent out to identify farmers and their farms to ensure proper targeting of beneficiaries.
“The farmers registration will ensure appropriate linkages to quality private inputs and service supply scheme to reduce none performing loan rate which are caused by side selling, political farmers”.
According to him, the project differs from the Anchor Borrowers Scheme which was launched by the Central Bank of Nigeria as the projects is expected to last for 12 months with an aggregate of 2 million hectares of land and livestock.
“The priority crop targeted by the AFJP is different from that of the Anchor Borrowers Scheme. The priority crop and livestock targeted for local market are Rice, Maize Sorghum, Soyabean, Groundnut, Cowpea, Millet amongst others”.