Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other stakeholders yesterday launched the ‘Agric for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP) to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on food production in the country.
The joint venture of private sector via out-grower scheme and farmers’ scheme is aimed at increasing locally grown food supply while simultaneously creating employment opportunities in the agriculture sector.
Other key stakeholders are the state governments and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Andrew Kwasari, yesterday stated that COVID-19 has affected the food sector and created job losses through panic and lack of access to funding for farming inputs.
He said the joint venture would be achieved through investment in the sector by providing zero-interest input financing options such as fertilizers and seeds to farmers across the 36 states and FCT to produce foods to sell locally and internationally.
The programme will run for duration of 12 months, targeting an aggregate of two million hectares of land for farming and livestock production.
Kwasari stressed that in collaboration with the N-Power scheme, trained enumerators have been deployed to identify farmers and their farms to properly reach the beneficiaries.
The AFJP targets two million smallholder farmers across the states and aims to produce 10 million tonnes of food in the next 12 months.
According to him, “The priority crops and livestock targeted by AFJP for local market are rice, maize, sorghum, groundnuts, cowpea, cassava, millet, livestock, palm kernel and cotton, while sesame seeds, hibiscus, cocoa, hides and skin; horns and hoofs are targeted for export market.’’
He stressed that AFJP is different from the Anchor Borrowers Programme, a long-term scheme launched by CBN in 2015 to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in food processing and small holder farmers.