Government unfolds roadmap for agricultural sector

Maize-Farming• Targets self-sufficiency in rice, maize, wheat
The Federal Government yesterday unfolded its blueprint to drive the agricultural sector with the plan to build an agribusiness economy capable of achieving food security requirements.

The plan include generating exports to increase the national revenue and support sustainable income and job growth potentials through wealth creation, promotion of entrepreneurial activities for fostering youth employment and enhancing national productivity.

According to the roadmap unveiled by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe during the National Agricultural Day celebration held at the Agric Show Ground in Keffi, Nasarawa State, immediate steps will be taken to achieve self-sufficiency in local staples by 2018.

Ogbeh said: “Our intention is to achieve self-sufficiency in grains, namely rice, sorghum, maize, millet, wheat within the next 36 months, as well as in milk and meat over the same timeline.”

He also said the government would pursue the development of agro-exports in cocoa, palm produce, groundnuts, cashew, yam flour (flour and tubers), seasame seed, pineapple, banana/plantain, tea, ginger, coffee, kolanut, shea butter, fruit and vegetables.

Ogbeh mentioned that the key objectives of the roadmap include increasing the contribution of the sector to the Gross Domestic Product in four years, putting the agricultural commodity chains into the broader supply chain, as a stimulus for driving job growth, increasing the contribution of agriculture to wealth creation, and enhancing the capacity of the country to earn foreign exchange from agricultural exports.

Stressing the determination of the government to ensure improvement in the use of fertilizers for higher crop yields and reduction in food prices, the minister said the ministry had produced a soil map that avails each state the kind of fertilizer most appropriate to its soil conditions for agricultural production. According to him, the initiative will stem the tide of soil damage through inappropriate and random use of fertilisers rather than through proper direction and scientific guide.

The minister reiterated government’s commitment to improving access to credit and finance for agricultural development, noting plans to reduce the current high interest rates by banks which constitute a disincentive to agriculture.

“ We are committed to improving access to agricultural credit and financing through a lower interest regime, and availing ourselves the opportunity of leveraging on the special intervention programmes of the Central Bank of Nigeria in support of agricultural production and agro enterprises.

“We are committed to the reform and reinvigoration of the Bank of Agriculture to enable us have a window to deliver affordable credit in support of agriculture, as obtainable in the rest of the world, where agriculture is given the priority that it deserves as a window of growing national wealth,” he stated.



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