The Federal Government has distributed free agricultural inputs and quality seeds to smallholder farmers in Gombe State.
This was disclosed in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The statement by the chief information officer, in the ministry, Ezeaja Ikemefuna, quoted the Minister of State, Mustapha Shehuri, who inaugurated the event, as saying that it would ensure food and nutrition security, create more jobs for the youth, as well as boost dry-season farming.
The minister, while performing the exercise at the ministry’s office complex in Gombe, said it was part of the mitigation measures against the effect of COVID-19 pandemic and the flood disaster that had wreaked havoc on farmlands.
Mr Shehuri said the ministry would support breeder and foundation seed production, as well as link up with private seed companies to ensure that certified seeds were made available to farmers nationwide.
He said improved rural infrastructure and other value chain support would invariably contribute to the attainment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire of ensuring easy access to quality food and nutrition for Nigerians.
”The ministry has supported Gombe State with subsidised input with over 350 3HP and 30 7HP irrigation pumps, multipurpose threshers, over 70 motorised and dual powered sprayers, amongst others.
”Under our World Bank assisted nutrition programme, we have provided multiple training and homestead farming input packages, including tomato, pepper, pawpaw, among others, in five local government areas of the state, as well as irrigation kits designed to improve household nutrition.
”The small-holder farmers in the state will today receive the following free inputs; 10,000 gum arabic seedlings, 15MT of rice seed, 2.5 mt groundnut foundation seeds, 1,000 kg of castor seeds, 1,500 kg of cashew nuts,” he said.
Also, to be distributed were, Ratkin and Liptol – organic insecticides to combat armyworm infestation and equipment like water pumps, maize threshers, among others, the minister said.
”So far, the ministry has performed similar exercises in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Oyo, Cross River and Imo states, with this being the eighth edition, assisting smallholder farmers with quality inputs to ensure sustainable food security, job creation and revenue generation to grow the nation’s economy.
”In our input distribution efforts, at least 35 per cent of these inputs are targeted at women farmers, this is in line with the targets set in our National Gender Action Plan and policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women,” he said.
Mr Shehuri also said in order to alleviate the effect of flood on farmers, inputs were distributed to farmers in Jigawa, Kebbi, Nasarawa and Benue.
He tasked the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the inputs to produce more food for the nation.
The minister also called on other stakeholders to provide similar support to farmers ‘’so that together we can defeat COVID-19 pandemic and become self-sufficient in food production.”
In his remarks, Gombe governor, Muhammadu Yahaya, appreciated the federal government for the distribution of agricultural inputs and quality seeds to smallholder farmers in the state.
Mr Yahaya said that it would not only cushion the effect of COVID – 19 pandemic but also promote dry-season farming, boost production and generate income for the farmers and the state at large.
The input distribution was kicked-off with two physically challenged people as the first beneficiaries to receive the packages from the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Karima Babangida.
In a separate visit to Bauchi State, Mr Shehuri had assured Governor Bala Mohammed that the ministry would continue to work with state governments, farmers and other stakeholders to achieve President Buhari’s promise of diversifying the economy, including revitalising and modernising the agricultural sector.
”We want to see farmers earning a decent income and to be fully integrated into the mainstream of our national economy,” he said.
Responding, Mr Mohammed said the state had result-driven policies and programmes which allowed investors to invest in the agricultural sector.
He said the policies would provide a conducive business environment for willing investors, create jobs and boost the economic growth of the people.
The minister also visited Soro community in Bauchi, where the ministry, through the Department of Rural Development, was constructing a 1.5 km asphaltic road aimed at providing an access road for farmers, for increased production and revenue generation.