James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran in Abuja
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri has flagged-off yet another distribution of free agricultural inputs and quality seeds to smallholders farmers in Gombe State.
He said the move will enhance food and nutrition security, create more jobs for teaming Nigerian youths and boost dry-season farming.
While performing the exercise at Gombe, the minister said the exercise was part of the mitigation measures against the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the flood disaster that wreaked havoc on farmlands.
Shehuri, also pointed out that the ministry would support breeder and foundation seed production and link up with the private seed companies to ensure that certified seeds are available to local farmers nationwide.
The minister maintained that improved rural infrastructure and other value chain support would invariably contribute to the attainment of President Muhammau Buhari’s desire towards ensuring easy access to quality food and nutrition for Nigerians.
According to him: “The ministry has supported Gombe State with subsidised inputs with over 350 3HP and 30 7HP irrigation pumps, multipurpose threshers, over 70 motorized and dual powered sprayers amongst others.
“Under our World Bank assisted nutrition programme, we have provided multiple trainings and homestead farming input packages including tomato, pepper, pawpaw among others in five local government areas in the state as well as irrigation kits designed to improve the household nutrition.”
He said: “The small holder farmers in the state will receive the following free inputs; 10,000 Gum Arabic Seedlings, 15MT of rice seed, 2.5 MT groundnut foundation seeds, 1,000 KG of Castor seeds, 1,500 KG of cashew nuts as well as Ratkin and Liptol – organic insecticides to combat army worm infestation and Equipment like water pumps, maize threshers among others.
“So far, the ministry has performed similar exercise in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Oyo, Cross River and Imo states, with this being the 8th edition, assisting smallhohders farmers with quality inputs to ensure sustainable food security, job creation and revenue generation to grow the nation’s economy.”
He added that at least 35 per cent of the inputs are targeted at the women farmers, in line with the targets set in the national gender action plan and policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women.
He also stated that in order to alleviate the effect of flood on farmers, inputs were distributed to farmers in Jigawa, Kebbi, Nasarawa and Benue state.
Shehuri tasked the beneficiaries to make judicious use of these inputs to produce food for the nation while calling on other stakeholders to provide similar support to farmers, “so that together we can defeat COVID-19 pandemic and become self- sufficient in food production”.