• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Jonathan approves N26bn for 2015 dry season farming

Jonathan, investors open talks with A/Ibom on gas utilisation

President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the release of N26 billion for 2015 annual dry season farming programme geared towards efforts to produce more food for the nation.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, which was solely dependent on oil resource, has recently developed a focus on agriculture as now a lifeline for the country.

“As crude oil prices decline, we must create new wealth from the richness of our soils, the vastness of our rivers and the abundance of our cheap labour. We will produce more, and we will industrialise the agricultural sector”, President Goodluck Jonathan said while speaking at the Agric Festival in Abuja on Friday.

Announcing the injection of funds for the 2015 dry season, the president declared all those owing the country on rice import duties must pay up.

He said Nigeria will not be held hostage by rice importers, emphasising that there will be no sacred cows in government’s efforts to achieve its vision of self-sufficiency in rice production for the country.

Read also: US experts to train Nigerian farmers next season- Adesina

He said the approval was to appreciate the contribution of rural farmers to massive food production in the country and to encourage the farmers to crop thrice a year to boost food production and eliminate hunger and poverty.

It would be recalled that Akinwunmi Adesina, the minister of agriculture, had in Lagos said the sum of N36.56 billion was owed the Federal Government by foreign and local importers who wish to run their own rice policy.

The Agriculture Festival which held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, tagged ‘Agric Fest’ was organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with farmers and agribusiness operators across the country.

“Nigeria, our dear country, will not be held hostage by rice importers; there will be no sacred cows under my watch. All those owing Nigeria on rice import duties must pay”, he said.

The president, who noted that rice farmers across the country now have a new lease of life, owing to the transformation taking place in the sector, said over six million rice farmers have received improved rice seed varieties, boosting domestic rice production by an additional seven million tons.

He said the rice revolution was taking place across the country from Kebbi, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Bauchi, Gombe, Niger, Kogi, Ogun, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Rivers, Anambra, Delta, Edo to Bayelsa state.

Jonathan said the number of integrated rice mills had expanded from one at the beginning of this administration to 24 today.

“We have transformed the face of agriculture, our country is producing more food than ever before.

“Our national food production has expanded by 21 million metric tons within the past three years.

“Our food import bill declined from N1.1 trillion in 2009 to N634 billion in 2013 and continues to decline; this is progress and we must continue to move forward”, Jonathan added.

He said the number of seed companies has also increased from 11 to 134 within the past three years, increasing access to high quality seed from 4,252 metric tons in 2011 to over 149,484 metric tons today.

According to him, with N900 billion ($5 billion) of new investments in the fertiliser sector, Nigeria will soon become self-sufficient in fertiliser production, and turn into a net exporter of fertiliser.

As this happens, the price of fertilisers will decline, and farmers will be able to afford more fertilisers to boost their food production, Jonathan said.

To further spur the traditional fishing competition in Argungu and promote fishing eco-tourism in the country, the president also directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to henceforth provide annual financial support for the Argungu festival.