Our administration committed to self-sufficiency in food production – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reiterated the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to self-sufficiency in food production in the country.

Prof. Osinbajo, who spoke on Sunday at the 4th National Discourse on Food Security of the Companion, at the University of Lagos, said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has set a clear direction with his declaration that Nigeria must produce what we eat and consume what we produce.”

“We have backed that with substantial budgetary allocation to agriculture from N8.8 billion in 2015 to N46.2 billion in 2016; and N103.8 billion in 2018. Agriculture grew by 14.27% in 2018,” he stated.

According to Prof. Osinbajo, “through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which the President launched in Kebbi State in November 2015, credit is given directly to smallholder farmers, through the CBN and 13 participating banks.

“So far, credit totaling N120.6 billion has been given to 720,000 smallholder farms cultivating 12 commodities including rice, wheat, cotton, soya beans, cassava, poultry and groundnuts, across the 36 States and FCT.

“The Anchor Borrowers Programme is now digitized, with all farmlands’ GPRS mapped, biometric data of farmers captured, electronic cards issued and specific inputs are required.  This has enhanced traceability and enhanced productivity and yield.”

The Vice President further stated that in order to improve a local blending capacity, a fertilizer programme has been launched in collaboration with Morocco.

“Today we have 11 Fertilizer Blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million. Fertilizer price has since dropped from N13,000 per 50kg to N5,500. Today, but for a few drawbacks, we are confidently approaching self-sufficiency in rice production: that is from importing $5 million of rice daily.

Continuing, he said, “the Next Level is extending agricultural credit more extensively, especially to farmers in the South. Construction of more dams to strengthen irrigation practices. Seven of such projects were completed in 2018 – Kashimbila Dam in Taraba State; Ogwashi-Uku Dam, Delta State; Shagari Irrigation Project, Sokoto State.

“Galdam Dam, Kaduna State; and Ekeremor Water Supply Project, Edo State. Others are Mangu Water Supply Project, Plateau State; and Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi Water Supply Project, Benue State. 13 more dams are to be completed by or before 2020.

“The work with subnational governments to provide access roads to farms for easy conveyance of products and inputs between markets and the farm will continue.”

While stressing that the entire value chain will be driven by the private sector developed from production through industrial processing to logistics/handling and marketing through technological transfer, Prof. Osinbajo also stated that, “a critical component of our agricultural programme is described as the Green imperative,” which idea is to move from the prevailing basic form of agriculture to a more mechanized system.

Speaking further, he said, “The Nigerian government, in partnership with Brazil, will facilitate the financing of the provision of machinery, equipment, input and services. At the top of the mechanization chain are six assembly plants to be activated and spread across the six geopolitical zones.

“The first assembly plant, among a total of six to operate, to assemble tractors and implements, will be located in Bauchi state in an already existing facility owned by a private operator. It is projected that almost 5,000 tractors will be assembled in Nigeria every year.”

He noted that with a substantial percentage of the world’s arable land and over half of that uncultivated, it is becoming clearer that Africa and Nigeria have the potential to become major food baskets in the world.

According to him, China’s demand alone has 27% of the world’s population but only 7% of the world’s arable land for agriculture. “China needs 2 million tonnes of hybrid Soya beans per annum for livestock feed and vegetable oil, we have not met that demand.