The Federal Government says it has, through the Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support project (APPEALS), set aside N600 billion as loans to support 2.4 million farmers across the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed this at the opening of the National Agricultural Show/Exhibition of the 2021 World Food Day, on Wednesday, in Abuja.
The theme of the 2021 edition of the Agricultural Show is: “Our Actions are our Future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, said his Administration was not resting on its oars in addressing the challenges of the country’s agricultural sector.
“The Federal Government, through the Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support project (APPEALS), has set aside N600 billion as loan support to farmers across the country.
“No fewer than 2.4 million farmers are expected to benefit from the loan which has zero interest.
“The gesture will support farmers in the country, to improve their productivity aimed at boosting the country’s food security, improving farmers’ production and increasing exports.
“It is gratifying that the sector is being treated as a business, no longer as a development project, with massive distribution of high quality farm inputs, dissemination of appropriate research results and significant enhancement of the agricultural commodity value chains.
“I would wish to reiterate and it is clear that if the agricultural sector must be made more productive and food systems sustainable, we must all be prepared to invest massively in the sector and rise to the call against looming food crisis as predicted by the World Bank, FAO, AfDB and other key actors in food and agriculture,” he said.
The president noted that since the beginning of the 2021 farming season, the Federal Government had distributed inputs to states, across the country to boost food production.
“Nigeria recorded a boost in the production of her major staple crops especially, maize and rice, which rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes (MMT).
“The same is obtainable for cassava, whose production rose from 58.47 MT in 2018 to 73.91MT and is even projected to rise to 93.6 by 2023.
“Growth has also been recorded for groundnut, tomatoes, and sorghum production. Cattle beef, dairy and fish production also rose by 166 per cent, 146 per cent, and 11 per cent, respectively between 2020 and 2021.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Bureau of Statistics report indicates that Nigeria’s national agricultural import bill also reduced from 1.2 to 1.1 billion Naira,” he said.
Also speaking, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, said that the Buhari- administration had initiated programmes and polices towards agricultural development and food security in the country.
Adamu, who thanked God for the World Food Day which comes up on Oct. 16, 2021, noted that it was a very important day on the calendar of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). (NAN)