The distribution of farm inputs was made by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, at the Ministry’s Warehouse at Okene road, Lokoja in Kogi State as contained in a statement signed by the Director, Information, Theodore Ogaziechi, which include a variety of seeds; cashew, sesame, soybeans, and tomatoes.
According to Nanono it is part of the Ministry’s resolve to step in and support farmers with farm inputs as palliative measures to cushion effects of the pandemic on farmers and food security.
He further disclosed that this is the 4th in the series of distributions of the Ministry’s palliatives to farmers nationwide, which the 1st flag-off was made in Kano, in collaboration with development partners led by International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and they distributed certified seeds of sorghum, millet, cowpea, and rice to 8,200 farmers in 13 States.
While the 2nd flag-off in Kaduna on 8th June 2020, where the Ministry supported rice farmers with 27,000kg and 300,000kg each of certified seeds of FARO 66 and 300,000kg of Foundation Seeds of flood-tolerant rice varieties of FARO 66 and FARO 67 respectively.
Also according to the Minister further 20 metric tonnes of Breeder Seeds of the same varieties were given to 14 selected seed companies to produce foundation seeds. 26,000kg of certified wheat seeds were distributed to wheat farmers, 1,350 maize production kits to maize farmers, 18,517KG of Aflasafe, and 300,000 sprouted nuts of oil palm to farmers in Kogi, Nasarawa and the Kaduna States.
The third distribution exercise was in Ibadan on 24th June 2020, which Kenaf farmers through the Kenaf Producers, Processors & Marketers Association (KEPPMAN) were supported with 19,672kg Kenaf Foundation Seeds, Yam Farmers through their national association and other cooperative groups were supported with 12,000kg of Foundation Seeds for production of Certified Seeds. The Ministry also distributed over 18,000kg of organic insecticides to farmers to combat Fall Army Worms infestation in Maize.
He said: “The decision of the Ministry to support the smallholder farmers with various inputs especially improved seeds of some priority crops namely; cashew, sesame, soybeans, and potatoes through farmer associations, women and youth groups and cooperatives nationwide are to avert food scarcity in the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Ministry is supporting smallholder farmers through their various associations and cooperatives with the following farm inputs: 38,142kg of improved cashew seeds for distribution to 3,798 of cashew farmers across the country for the 2020 cropping season.
“27,000kg of certified sesame seeds for distribution to 5,400 sesame farmers, 50,000kg of soybeans seeds for distribution to soybeans farmers and 12,000 bundles of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) for 1,200 farmers, 15,000 sachets of force, 3,000 sachets of glory crop protection, 580 litres of soil amender and 500 litres of organic fertilizer to potato farmers.”
The Minister also acknowledged that the impact of food security and a healthy population cannot be overemphasized following the priority his Ministry places on them to keep national life going on smoothly.
“The Ministry takes the issue of food security and health of the population seriously. These seeds are being given to the beneficiaries free of charge while other inputs are given at 75 per cent subsidy”, he said.
He also added that women and young farmers are treated specially for quality participation in the food production chain, “In our input distribution efforts, at least 35 per cent of the inputs are targeted at women and youth farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Action Plan for Agriculture and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women. This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly.”
Meanwhile, appreciating the gesture the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his support for farmers across the country, particularly in Kogi State.
Bello who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Chief Edward Onoja, also lauded Buhari’s effort towards making agriculture the country’s mainstay in order to realize massive job creation, food production and security, wealth creation and foreign exchange revenue earner through diversification of the economy.