FG Flags-off Economic Plan on Agriculture, Job to Mitigate Covid-19 Impact

The Federal Government has launched the  Agriculture for  food and job plan AFJP), a major take-off for the agriculture component of the Nigeria Economic and Sustainability Plan (NESP) targeting smallholder farmers . The project would mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy and  livelihoods of farmers by creating more access to food for and the rapid emergence of a competitive food production, processing and distribution in Nigeria.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono stated this during the official launch of the Agriculture for food and job plan(AFJP) in Funtua, Katsina State, today, Thursday 23th July, 2020. Alhaji Sabo Nanono informed that Mr. President set up an Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo  to fashion out a plan on COVID -19 intervention.
Alhaji Nanono said ‘’one of the strategies adopted by the Committee is the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), stating that the Programme will aid  the transformation of the Nigerian agriculture from its largely low yielding and subsistent state to a high yielding technology based farming system’’.
Speaking further, he  said that the  strategies would generate appropriate welfare gains consistent with the Federal Government’s Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP) and Green Alternative strategies.
The Minister said that the plan,  “is also in tandem with the three pronged action plan of the Ministry to deal with the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian agriculture and farmers’’.
Nanono explained  that ‘’these measures include among others, the life-saving humanitarian assistance to vulnerable households to buffer the impact of COVID-19, such as the release of about 100,000 metric tons of assorted food commodities from the National Food Reserve to several groups and communities”.
The Minister highlighted the deliverables of the AFJP as contained  in the NESP in 12 months: ” creation of between 5- 10 million jobs in the agric sector, produce about 10,000,000 MT of food ,cultivate between 20,000 – 100,000 hectares of land per State based on land availability to an aggregate of 2.4 million farmers tied to farmlands, input financing loan to farmers will be zero interest, land clearing and preparation support, among others “.
Accordingly the Minister, ” this symbolic launch represent over 1,100,000 smallholder farmer beneficiaries in 36 states and  the FCT  on the Batch A list under 6 partners namely AFEX, BabanGona, Value Seeds, Universal, Thrive Agric and Oxfam. We will soon be announcing Batch B beneficiaries”, he averred.
He lauded the continuous support of OCP AFRICA Fertilizer Limited for its initiative  “”in the provision of soil testing equipment and supply of 20 units of OCP branded Motorcycles, Android Tablets and safety of kits to support the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development meant to support Extension Services”.
In his Goodwill message, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu,  stressed that the Agric sector is the bedrock of the economy and appreciated the efforts of the Federal Government under the Leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for his visionary policies in the Agric sector.
The Chairman, House Committee on Agric. Production Services, Hon. Muntari Danduste, during his Goodwill message, thanked Mr. President for providing COVID – 19 Agricultural intervention palliative to the farmers in Katsina State which he said would cushion the effects of the Pandemic on 2020 farming season in the state and the nation at large.
In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr.  Abdulkadir Mua’zu, represented  by the Director, Department of Agriculture Extension, Engr. Frank Kudla said that ‘’ your presence here is an indication of our recognition  intervention of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the efforts of the Ministry to reposition Nigerian agricultural system and increase farmers’ resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated negative impacts.  Your continuous support will go a long way in ensuring that the objective of the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan is achieved’’.
Dr Mua’zu noted that ‘’our coming together is because we are determined to join forces for action against COVID-19 pandemic, hunger and poverty. I therefore, implore you all, especially our partners, to work hard to ensure that the core activities of this Project is carried out to a logical conclusion in the coming months’’
Ezeaja Ikemefuna
For: Director Information (FMARD)