FG calls for collaboration with States to bridge gap in food production

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Agric, AfCFTA: Expert seeks value creation for agric products before export

As Minister, 36 State Agric Commissioners hold 1st CoP meeting

Nigeria records N3.5trn on post-harvest losses annually-ActionAid

With the soaring prices of food items, the Federal Government, Thursday, called for collaboration with States to bridge gap in food production and implementation of policies.

The call was made by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, at the inaugural meeting of the Community of Practice, CoP, for State Commissioners of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Shehuri in his keynote address said there is need for the States and other critical stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to be under one roof to address issues affecting synergy in the agricultural space.

He also explained that the aim of the meeting is to brief the Commissioners on the concept and justification for establishing the CoP, and with their presence as key players in the agricultural sector will address strategic priorities and ensure effective policy implementation in the agricultural system.

He said: “It is a bit late but apt, and I wish we will be having this meeting every month.

“There is a missing link in view of what the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is doing and what the states are doing.

“I think it is right in having this meeting every month and chaired by the Minister to hear from the Commissioners of Agric from various States about their problems and collectively proffering solutions.

“And as time goes on the Community of Practice, CoP, needs to be expanded for other stakeholders to come on board.

“I will like to see a representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, including representatives of other government agencies and other stakeholders so that they are under one roof where they will sit and digest, and looking at the problems.

“The main objective of having a Community of Practice the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is to build a common platform for the planning streamlining and implementation of Agricultural policies and programmes across the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT.

“Primarily, CoP is formed to assist the Ministry in areas of additional knowledge, expertise and experience to move together on the same pathway.

“As you are aware, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has the mandates to ensure food security in crops, livestock and fisheries, stimulate agricultural growth create employment, promote the production and supply of raw materials to agro industries, generate foreign exchange and more importantly stimulate Rural Economy.”

However, in a presentation titled ‘Power in People’ An Overview of Community of Practice (CoP) for States Honourable Commissioners for Agriculture by Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, called for commitment to food production by collaborating under the auspices of CoP in order to foster expected synergy between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and State Ministries of Agriculture.

Obi said: “Lack of collaboration between Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and State Ministries of Agriculture is one of the major and can be said to be the overarching challenge that has prevented the Nigerian agricultural sector from attaining its full potential over the years.

“Nigerian can cover Africa with food because of the landmass and soil that we have but what are we doing to unleash that food potential to even create jobs for the teeming population of Nigerians?

“The collaboration can bring assistance. We collectively have a lot of challenges to surmount together in the agriculture sector.

“Nigeria imported agric products valued at N1.97 trillion in 2021, surging by 42 per cent year-on-year compared to N1.19 trillion recorded in the previous year. This also represents the highest amount on record spent on agricultural imports in any year.

“Our post-harvest losses is estimated at N3.5 trillion annually with each state and LGA having its own large share.

“Nigeria is not at its best in the Biennial Review Reports on the Implementation of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)

“The large gender gap in the agriculture sector needs to be closed quickly by our implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture.”

Also she pointed that Nigeria came third country with highest acute food insecurity, after Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, and Ethiopia respectively, which 12.8 million Nigerians are currently affected.

Meanwhile, according to her (Ene),  “The data/information we collected through the Non-State Actors Value Addition Biennial Review Toolkit (NSAs VABKIT) that reflected the lived realities of smallholder women farmers across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) shows that nationwide, smallholder women farmers currently have only:18 per cent access to processing facilities, 16.60 per cent access to storage facilities, 13.50 per cent access to off-takers/access to markets, 9.60 per cent access to transportation for agricultural produce, and 42.30 per cent access to trainings.

“On Extension Services, smallholder women farmers have access to only 5.26 per cent farm demonstrations and 19.47% farmers field schools.

“On agricultural credit, they have access to less than 23 per cent of existing credit facilities, and only 4.77 per cent access to agricultural insurance.

“On access to and control over land, about 59 per cent of them have access to land, 29.77 per cent have control, while only 11.23 per cent are engaged in land governance discussions.

“While government is making effort to improve the space for more Public Private Partnerships arrangements in Nigeria’s agriculture sector, smallholder women farmers’ access to such schemes across the country remains below 27 per cent”, she added.

Also, in a goodwill message, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, Representative in Nigeria and to ECOWAS, Fred Kafeero, said, his organization is ready to support CoP and agriculture in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Managing Partner, Sahel Consulting, Temi Adegoroye, said they are committed to continuous collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other stakeholders to achieve food and nutrition security.

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