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Farmers showcase products at fair

Published by The Nation on Fri, 30 Jan 2015

The agricultural sector has recorded major achievements. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, seized on the outing of farmers to showcase the impact of the sectors contributions to the economy, reports, Alvin Afadama.Last week, about 23,000 farmers from across the country gathered to celebrate four years of the agricultural transformation turnaround in Nigeria.The event, aptly tagged Agriculture Festival 2015 (AGRIFEST 2015), brought farmers from the North West, Southwest, Northcentral, Southsouth, Northeast, and Southeast. The famers had a confident bearing about them, for in the past three years 14.5 million of them have received 1.3 million MT of fertiliser and 174,000 MT of improved seed, producing in return an additional 21 million MT of food with a net value of N778 billion. Our local agriculture sector was alive again, resulting in food import decline from N1.1 trillion in 2009 to N634 billion in 2013.Nigeria is also breaking new ground in wheat production. Driven by the release of two tropical wheat varieties, productivity has risen from less than one MT/ha to five-six MT/ha. Wheat production has risen 300 per cent fold from 80,000MT in 2011 to 240,000MT in 2014. In the 2014/2015 dry season, the wheat growing season, 184MT of improved wheat seeds was given to farmers in 10 states of North West and North East to produce 18,000MT of wheat seed of the new varieties to expand the area under these new varieties to 150,000MT by 2015/2016.The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said the living standard of farmers have changed as they now get better markets and higher prices from private companies as the products, among them sorghum, are processed into high energy foods, breakfast cereals and malt drinks. He said cotton farmers are equally benefitting, given the fact that they are experiencing a dramatic change in their fortunes as a result of governments support with improved cotton seeds and the revival of about 22 cotton ginneries, thus reducing imports, and as well creating wealth for rural communities.With over N900 billion ($5 billion) of new agribusiness investments in all parts of the food value chain, Nigeria will soon become self-sufficient in food production, and eventually becoming a net exporter of food, the Minister, said.AGRIFEST 2015 revealed that Nigeria is firmly on its way to becoming a global powerhouse in agriculture. Because of the natural resources that God has so richly endowed the country with, the new Nigerian agriculture sector has endless possibilities. The Agricultural Transformation Agenda, he said, has demonstrated that a truly great future lies ahead for the country.The success story that is Nigerias agriculture today is corroborated by independent sources. The 2013 wet season survey conducted by the National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Service (NAERLS), revealed that fertilizer usage in the country is up nearly eight times, 108Kg/hectre in 2013 compared to13Kg/hectre in 2010. The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) at a recent stakeholders meeting also reported that the number of seed companies have risen from 11 in 2010 to 134 in 2014. Usage of improved seeds of rice, maize, sorghum, soybean, and cotton has also grown from a meagre 4,252MT/year in 2010 to 149,484MT/year in 2013. The NAERLS study also demonstrated that crop yields soaredon the wings of increased use of improved seeds and fertilizer. Rice yields doubled from 1.5MT/Ha in 2011 to 3MT/ha average during the wet season and 4MT/Ha during the dry season. Maize yields also rose from 2MT/Ha to 3MT/Ha, and soybean increased from 0.7MT/Ha to 1.5MT/Ha.At no time has a teeming number of Nigerians been more interested in agriculture, whether at a commercial or subsistence level. The Federal Government has embarked on an aggressive drive to re-direct the Nigerian economy, making agriculture a foreign exchange earner, as it was in the past.Statistics of the impact of the agricultural-sector-turnaround on each of the individual crop and livestock value chains is evident in many sectors. Between 2012 and 2014, an additional seven million MT of rice paddyfive million MT of milled rice, was produced by six million rice farmers who received improved seeds and fertiliser. Rice paddy production in 2014 was 10.7 million MT of paddy, or seven million MT of milled rice, representing a 100 per cent increase over the production level recorded in 2011.Nigeria is now at 85 per cent sufficiency in rice production.Akinwunmi said high quality Nigerian rice now competes favourably with imported ones. A new rice policy has also created incentives for erstwhile importers and new entrepreneurs to invest another $2.6billion in domestic rice production and milling. .Also, a total of 3.5million jobs have been added to the agricultural sector in the last three years. The Consumer Price Index report of NBS for the month of November revealed that for three consecutive months, food prices remained relatively flat. Overall inflation decreased from 8.1 per cent to 7.9 per cent in November, last year due to food prices. The bumper harvest from our Agricultural transformation created a buffer to hyper-inflation created by the fall in the value of the naira.The post Farmers showcase products at fair appeared first on The Nation.]]>
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