By James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sano Nanono, has directed agricultural agencies to focus more on the production of rice and maize which he classified as political commodities.
Speaking at the opening of a meeting with chief executives of parastatals and top management of the ministry in food security, recently, he called for deliberate efforts to promote and ensure that food security and safety net were built around both commodities.
He said: “I want you to know that we have an enormous task of that of mandate for rice and mandate for maize.
“Why I emphasise this is because these have become political commodities, all eyes are on these.
When the price of rice goes up, you’ll hear a lot of noise and if the price of maize goes up, a lot of noise. But if it is millet or sorghum a little noise or no noise. So these two commodities will have to be up-doing.”
The minister also said going forward, project implementation in the ministry and agency must go beyong simply awarding of contracts to ensuring that there is value for money spent.
He said implementation must be followed to ensure that such projects benefitted Nigerians.
He said: “That is why in this year’s budget I insisted that we help to base our budget in projects why because projects will have definition, will have location, will have origin and will have management.”
He said agencies of government must be up to their responsibilities and assure that whatever is acquired through contract awards is monitored for social impact going forward.
However, he said the interactive meeting with the chairmen of boards and parastatals under the ministry was aimed at revisiting existing synergy and strengthening collaboration on developing the agriculture sector of the economy.
He said the current administration regards agriculture as a medium for strengthening strategic partnership and sectoral linkages for import-substitution, enterprise development, value-added processing and economic diversification.
He said in line with the ministry’s signed deliverables with the presidency, the priority area for food security entails engagement with state and non-state actors to facilitate programmes to farmers on mechanisation, extension delivery, commodity production, storage facilities, agro-processing, grazing reserves, livestock transformation and fisheries.
Nanono added that the government is determined to fill the gap and consolidate on the achievements recorded under the Agricultural Promotion Policy which focused on productivity enhancement, institutional realignment and private sector investment.
He said at the moment, the ministry took pragmatic approach of repositioning the agricultural research system, securing 20,000 to 100,000 hectares of land per State for agricultural use, and promoting agro and agro-allied cluster activities nationwide adding that expectations are to deploy improved varieties, expand cultivable land area and support agribusiness undertakings in the country.
The minister stressed that the provisions of administrative guidelines and procedures on relationship between ministries and parastatals, are to “enable us ensure orderliness, responsibility, transparency and consensus in the conceptualization and implementation of policies, programmes and projects.
These must be adhered to, henceforth.”
He said: “We all need to re-commit ourselves to the development of the sector by aligning progress, fine-tuning strategies, de-risking options, streamlining interventions, pooling resources and implementing projects. Failure, ladies and gentlemen, is not an option.
“I want to assure you that the ministry under my leadership, is open to constructive interface and will support any concept, initiative and strategy that can guide, facilitate and fast-track the implementation of policies, programmes and projects in the agricultural sector.”