The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that inputs distributed include, 3,000 oil palm seedlings, 1,500kg cashew seeds, 20,000 certified seed yams, and 200 litres of pathway organic growth enhancers.
Other distributed items were 4,000 bundles of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, 3,000 bundles of cassava stems, as well as various agricultural equipment and agrochemicals, among others.
Speaking during the distribution ceremony in Osogbo, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Abubakar, said the inputs would open up investment opportunities, create jobs for stakeholders and facilitate increased production and food security.
The minister was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Ernest Umakhihe.
Abubakar said the effort was meant to intervene in the sufferings of the smallholder farmers, occasioned by insecurity and COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production and to avert food scarcity in the near future.
He said, “Having carefully assessed the negative impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, my Ministry designed a support programme targeting small-holder farmers to enhance the farming family income, create jobs and generate wealth.
“The agricultural sector has been a priority for the current administration which becomes necessary to stimulate local production of food to achieve self-sufficiency, attract investments, create jobs and enhance the livelihood of farming families.
“The sector has become one of the major contributors to the country’s economy, contributing about 25 per cent to our GDP, while smallholder farmers account for about 70 per cent of national food production.
“This was achieved through the implementation of strategic policies such as the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), the Green Imperative, Agricultural Promotion Policy, as well as the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), among others.”
The minister, who noted that the inputs were given to farmers free, said that 35 per cent was targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in the National Gender Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women.
He said that 15 per cent of the inputs were targeted at farmers with special needs, adding that the distribution pattern had been communicated to the Farmers’ Association.
The minister urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the inputs to produce food for the nation.
In his remarks, the State Coordinator of the ministry, Mr Sunday Atoyebi, said that the inputs would boost agricultural production and also avert food scarcity in the year.
Atoyebi noted that the ministry would continue to support farmers with relevant inputs all year round.
“I want to implore farmers to ensure that all inputs given to them are used for what it was meant for, so as to support the President in achieving one of his main objectives which is boosting agricultural production in Nigeria,” he said.
The Chairman of Osun State All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Alhaji Suleiman Araokanmi, commended the Federal Government for the gesture.
Araokanmi, however, appealed to the beneficiaries not to sell the inputs but should use them for food production. (NAN)
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