Nigeria To Attain Self-Sufficiency In Rice Production By 2018

Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed in a press conference in Abuja revealed that the present administration will soon attain its goal of self-sufficiency in rice production for the country, come 2018.

Lai Mohammed said this while briefing journalists on the administration’s growing achievements to revamp the economy. According to him Nigeria is inching closer to self-sufficiency in rice production, due to the successes recorded in the local production of rice.

Mr. Muhammed cited a report by a Thai rice export association to support his claim.

“In fact, the Thailand Rice Exporters Association has recently revealed that within a spate of just two years – from September 2015 to September 2017 – Nigeria’s rice importation dropped from 644,131 Metric Tonnes to just about 21,000MT.

“There is more good news to report: As a result of this administration’s success in local production, some investors from Thailand have shown interest in establishing rice milling plants in Nigeria, and this is sure to further boost rice production in Nigeria.

“The increased rice production has, in turn, led to the establishment of rice mills, including the 120,000MT WACOT Mill in Kebbi and the 1,000,000MT Dangote Rice Mill,” Mr. Mohammed said.

Mr. Mohammed added that Nigeria targets the production of seven million metric tons of rice in 2018.

“So what does the increased production of rice portend for the country? It means, as I said earlier, that Nigeria is very close to achieving self-sufficiency in rice. By 2018, the administration targets rice production of 7 million MT. As at 2015, rice demand in Nigeria stood at 6.3 million MT,” he added.

Data available however indicates that Nigeria imported 2.330 million metric tons of rice in 2015 and 2016.

The data provided by the global Agricultural Market Information System, AMIS further indicate that Nigeria’s rice importation reduced to 2.310 million metric tons within the period of 2016 to 2017.

According to the data, Nigeria’s domestic supply of rice stood at 3.850 million metric tons in 2015 to 2016, while the figure reduced to 3.620 million metric tons within the period of 2016 to 2017.

The data also indicated that Nigeria’s domestic consumption of rice, stood at 5. 530 million metric tons of rice between 2015 and 2017.

The data provided by AMIS also forecast Nigeria’s rice importation, as expected in 2018 adding that it would rise from 2.310 million metric tons in 2017, to 2.830 million metric tons in 2018.

 

500 Daura Farmers Key Into Anchor Borrowers Programme

Rice Farmers Association for the Daura Local Government chapter reveals that it has so far registered 500 farmers for the second phase of the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Agricultural Programme.

This was made known by the chairman of the association, Alhaji Nura Baure, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Daura on Tuesday.

He said the farmers would be provided with farm implements such as seedlings, fertilizer, insecticides, water pumping machines and cash to enable them become fully committed in the venture.

Baure noted that the first batch of farmers who benefited from the programme had started repaying the loan.

“We have received hundreds of bags of rice as loan repayment from the first batch of the beneficiaries,’’ he said.

According to him, the second phase of the disbursement and distribution of farm implement is expected to hold in December for the dry season farming.

He urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the loan when collected with a view to promoting food security and economic sustainability.

The chairman commended the Federal Government for the reforms in the sector, especially the Anchor Borrowers Programme, adding that it had created thousands of millionaires nationwide.

The Anchor Borrowers Programme was established by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in line with its developmental function.

The Programme, which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) on Nov. 17, 2015, is aimed at creating a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing, and small holder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities

The programme thrust is the provision of farm inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to small holder farmers to
boost production of these commodities, stabilise inputs supply to agro processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.

At harvest, the small holder farmer supplies his/her produce to the Agro- processor (Anchor) who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account.

About 2,000 farmers have so far keyed into the programme since its inception

 

Kwara Govt. Disburses N1bn To 540 Farmers

The Kwara State Government has disbursed over N1 billion to 500 smallholder farmers and 40 commercial farmers to boost agriculture and food security in the state.

Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara who made this known on Monday in Ilorin, while speaking at the 2nd Harmony Agriculture International Fair (HAGIF) said the government had also provided 2,550 hectares of land for smallholder farmers in the state.

He also said that 381 kilometres of rural roads would be rehabilitated in 2018 under the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), in partnership with the World Bank and the Federal Government.

Ahmed described the Off-Takers Demand Driving Agriculture (ODDA) Scheme as an empowerment programme that was initiated to drive employment, boost food production and diversify the state’s economy.

He said that the objective of the scheme was to match farmers with off-takers who would purchase the harvested produce directly from the farmers

The governor said that his administration had, over their years, embarked on various intervention programmes, which were aimed at provoking the people’s attitudinal change towards agriculture in the state.

Ahmed listed such intervention programmes as the Back to Farm programme, the Youth Farm Centre and the ODDA Scheme, among others.

He said that the programmes were part of the commercial agriculture initiative of his administration.

“ODDA is designed to build an agribusiness ecosystem that will reduce food importation, enhance foreign exchange and more importantly, create sustainable livelihoods for our people, especially youths and women,” he added.

Ahmed said that by the coming harvest season, the state would witness the emergence of a new generation of prosperous youth farmers.

According to him, HAGIF has a symbiotic relationship with the ODDA scheme through its agribusiness division.

Earlier, the Chairman of Harmony Holdings, Prof. Halidu Abubakar, said that the financial support which the state government gave to the company had enabled it to give out loans to over 100 cooperative societies and 1,000 farmers.

He said that the goal of the company was to complement the efforts, policies and programmes of the state government in its agricultural transformation agenda

 

Nigeria Earns N212.73bn From Agricultural Exports

Nigeria realised N212.73 billion from agricultural product exports at the end of the fourth quarter of 2016.

This was disclosed in excerpts of a book entitled: ‘‘Making steady, sustainable progress for Nigeria’s peace and prosperity: a mid-term scorecard on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration,’’

It was authored by the Presidential Media Team.

The book, which will be presented to the public on Nov. 16 in Abuja, was sighted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“At the end of 2016, agricultural goods, as share of total trade, got N212.73 billion and 4.02 per cent.

“Agricultural goods’ exports were 2.7 per cent higher in the fourth quarter of 2016 than third quarter of the year.’’

It stated that the products, which contributed most to agricultural product exports in the fourth quarter, were sesame seeds with N6.46 billion, frozen shrimps and prawns with N4.4 billion.

According to the report, flour and meals of soya beans contribute N2.59 billion; cashew nuts in shell, N0.95 billion, and crude palm kernel with N0.62 billion.

It stated that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had commenced work on the development of a five-year (2017-2021) action plan on Single Quality Control Management Plan, as recommended by the European Union.

“The plan is to meet international standards, inter-state trading and global acceptance of the nation’s commodities.

“The commodities targeted for exports include cocoa, palm produce, groundnut, cashew, yam (flour and tubers) sesame seed, pineapple, banana/plantain, tea, ginger, coffee, kola nut, shea butter, pulses, hides and skins, potato, fruit and vegetables.’’

The report said the ministry had commenced an undertaking of strategic intervention in the Kenaf value chain for cultivation, processing, and manufacturing of Kenaf/Jute bags for packaging.

“Displeased to share the latest rejection of our produce at the European Union Border Controls, the ministry has commenced steps towards bringing the standards of Nigeria’s agricultural exports to global standards.

“This culminated in two meetings held in Lagos, in January and February 2017, on food safety and zero reject of agricultural products.

“Standards and Quality control measures are now being developed in response to the rejection, last year, of exports (as in beans in the EU and some other commodities),’’ the report said.

It added that the ministry was taking a pioneering role in the mechanisms to safeguard Nigeria’s agricultural exports from being rejected at the frontier markets.

The publication was edited by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity; Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, and Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, (Office of the Vice President).

The book, authored by the Presidential Media Team, is a documentation of the notable achievements of the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration since it was inaugurated on May 29, 2015.

President Buhari wrote the foreword of the 348-page book, containing milestones of all the federal ministries and some select departments and agencies in the last two years.

The Buhari Media Support Group also contributed to the compendium rich with text and visuals.

The book will be reviewed by Prince Tony Momoh while APC National leader Bola Tinubu is the keynote speaker/book Presenter.

Kano State Inaugurates Seed Inspectors

In a bid to promote and secure the interest of farmers in the country, the National Seed Council of Nigeria on Monday in Kano inaugurated seed inspectors to rid and sanitise seed industry of fake and adulterated products. The Director-General of NASC, Dr Olusegun Ojo, who inaugurated the inspectors urged them to arrest and prosecute anybody or organisations that contravened any of the subsisting laws.

 

Ojo said the inspectors would help in sanitising the industry and carrying out regular sensitisation of stakeholders to reposition the industry. He said the council had directed its seed law enforcement officers nationwide to commence full scale surveillance and enforcement of the provisions of the seed act.

 

“Anyone, organisation or agency who engages in any seed related activity without proper recourse to the act will be arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law.

 

“It is expected that the inspectors will bring the required sanity to the seed industry and make quality seeds and seedlings available to the teeming farmers that will translate it into higher yields and income,” he said.

 

He said six inspectors were selected from each of the six zones of the country to head the monitoring groups. On his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said quality seed was paramount to enhancing agricultural productivity, adding that it contributed more than 50 per cent of increased crop productivity per unit area.

 

“This government through seed council has over the years engaged in regulating the activities of seed producing entities aimed at ensuring that enough quantities of improved quality seeds are available for farmers’ use,” he said.

 

Ogbeh said the seed inspectorate unit would help in repositioning the country’s seed industry.

 

He however, warned fake and adulterated seed dealers that it was no longer business as usual.

 

According to him, the authority will not hesitate to deal with those who continue to sabotage the efforts of government toward food security.

 

The Minister also warned henceforth that the federal government would arrest and prosecute owners of companies that sell fake and sub-standard seeds to farmers.

Agriculture: Reps Targets 5,000 Jobs

The House of Representatives is targeting at least 5,000 direct and indirect jobs with the establishment of farm settlements across the country. The lawmakers are also seeking to raise funding from 10-20 percent for Agriculture from the Ecological Fund.

 

 

Its Committee on Agricultural Services has also begun additional legislative work on  a bill “for an Act to Amend the National Agricultural Land Development Authority Act, 2004 to Increase its Membership and Functions for Strategic Operations and Interests and to Vest in the Authority Powers to Establish Farm Settlements across the Country for the Purposes of Attaining Food Sufficiency and to Establish the National Farm Settlement and Youth Empowerment Agency to create a Mechanised System of Farming”.

 

 

The bill, which seeks the establishment of farm settlements in Federal Constituencies in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), is sponsored by Evelyn Oboro and two others. It passed second reading on November 1, 2017. Members supported the bill saying it aligns with the current focus of the federal government to diversify the economy and create jobs for an estimated five thousand unemployed youths.

 

 

Oboro, who represents Okpe/Sapele/Uvwie Federal Constituency of Delta State, said apart from the job component of the bill, the element of lack of standardisation of food exports would be taken care of. In a chat with reporters at the weekend, she said: “We have been talking about diversifying the economy of our great nation and agriculture is the main area we are looking at.

 

 

“The funding of the agency is just 10 percent from the Ecological Funds. We are asking that it be moved up to 20 percent. It has nothing to do with the Federal Government budget.

 

“Not only that, we’re also asking for farm settlements in different constituencies across the country as well as a law backing the establishment of farm settlements where large and medium up-takers can do business with female and young farmers, will go a long way in stemming the rural- urban drift as well as reduce poverty in low income communities.”

British Airways Propose To Fly Nigerian Yams To UK

The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, disclosed during the weekend in chat with the press in Abuja, that British Airways has offered to fly Nigerian yams to the United Kingdom in a bid to sustain the export of the produce.

 

He insisted that there was no alternative to exportation of agricultural produce as the realities of oil and gas export had made the future very bleak. He said:

 

“British Airlines just called and said they are willing to fly the yams. You know when they are leaving Nigeria they carry no cargo, it is only when Nigerians are coming back that they overload the whole place with hand luggage. So they said the luggage holes can take one or two tons of yams.

 

“DHL flies cargo planes into Nigeria daily, 747 planes and they go back largely empty. They have to fill the aircraft with sand bags to balance the weight. They said arrange let’s fly this thing, we will give you discounts.

 

“The Russian Ambassador came to my office to ask if we can sell them fruits— pawpaw, avocado pears, bananas, mangos. He came in with his jet.

 

“Many countries, we have been told will in 10years or 15years be using electrical cars; it is time for us to get ready because in five years, they will probably get there.

 

“Tesla is a group in the US, their electrical cars are now able to drive 500kms on a single charge and it takes eight minutes to recharge, almost faster than your cell phone and you can clock another 500kms.

 

“What do we do when that time comes and oil is gone and there is nothing to export? Some people are there and anything you try to do they attack you, they harass you and how do you earn forex?

 

“Nigeria is owing N18trillion in debt right now and 20% or so of that is foreign, the rest is local debt. How do you pay the foreign ones if you have no earnings in dollars? How do you import medicines and vaccines if you don’t have dollars?

 

“The argument that yams would be short is not true; 30% of the yams we grow rot away and we are the largest producers of yam in the world. The figure is not mine, it is that of the Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO.

 

“I think generations past have made many serious mistakes, we mismanaged oil and gas. If not, by now, Nigeria should be talking of $200 billion foreign reserves. Between food and petroleum products we blew 60billion a year on imports, it made no sense.

 

“Why couldn’t we refine our petrol here, why import rice, sugar, milk, tomato paste, fruit juice concentrate, fish, apples, grapes and what have you?

 

“So the big question is where are we heading because if we cannot sort this thing out quickly enough, I can assure you like when I talked about Boko Haram many years that trouble lies ahead.

 

“On the other hand, if we can turn it around, this country could be a paradise but we don’t have that much time.

 

“Too many young people are angry, they are all over the streets, kidnapping, and stealing, killing and what have you. What kind of country are we in that people kill each other so happily. You just enter a village 40 people have been killed, 11 people have been killed, you kidnapped somebody and shot him; are we sane?”

 

 

ALGON Unveils Agricultural Plan To Create Over 1 Million Jobs

The Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), has unveiled an agricultural plan called Comprehensive Local Agriculture Plan, C-LAP, that is set to create over 1 million jobs in the rural areas.

 

This was disclosed during the official launch of C-LAP yesterday, in Abuja, by the Director, Projects and International Cooperation, C-LAP, Dr Tanay Joshi, who said the project will facilitate utilization of scarce natural, physical and financial resources, therefore create wealth and jobs for the teeming population.

 

Joshi said the initiative was targeted at the integrated action plan to fast-track development of local government areas through agriculture sector, and also for infrastructural development that would support the agricultural development at the grassroots. According to him, the plan will enhance the ability for achieving sustainable agricultural growth with food security and the cropping system that will improve farmers’ income.

 

The project strategy includes creating opportunities by building food processing industries in the LGAs and a customized mega food park for each state, making farmers, traders and processors as the principal’s agents of commercialization. Establish primary, secondary, tertiary markets at local levels to support distribution and export markets at national and level linking the farmers to markets and opportunities.

 

ALGON, therefore, adopts a bottom-up approach through the C-LAP at local government level of the agricultural sector. It will add value to agricultural raw materials and integrate Nigeria into world agricultural markets. He said: “C-LAP is a bottom-up approach which aims to eliminate hunger through agriculture policy reforms and initiatives that will help small-scale farmers achieve sustainable food supplies, provide jobs, access markets and increase exports significantly. It will be implemented in the 774 local government areas over an initial five years period.

 

“Under this project, a component of food security and livelihood enhancement have been given top priority. The project will intervene in all sectors of agriculture and in other to combat poverty and improve livelihoods across the nation and assure food security.”

 

In his remarks, chairman, local organising committee, Dr Balraj Sikka, explained that project will create a wide range of opportunities for investors to come into the food value chains, which will take the business to the capital market that would make ALGON have major benefits that would help it sustain its own. “Aggregating 774 farms and linking these farms to a national retail chain, wholesale markets and mega food parks.

 

To address the forward linkages; the project will design food mart retail chain model to create a network that delivers the agricultural produces straight to the doorstep of the consumers. “It will help to create opportunities for private investors to invest in food chains and finally the business can be taken to the capital market so that ALGON has a major benefit and sustain on its own”, Sikka stated.

Make Agric Attractive To Youth, AfDB Urges African Leaders

The World Food Day celebrated yearly on October 16, promotes worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. This year’s theme focuses on the need to ‘Change the future of migration; Invest in food security and rural development’, and as the world marked the 2017 World Food Day, the African Development Bank has highlighted how Africa’s food security depends on attracting young people to agriculture and agribusiness. The bank also noted that the sector can potentially create wealth and employment for African youth, thereby stemming migration.

The AfDB’s ENABLE Youth programme, which grooming a crop of young agriculturists, is on course to make this happen, according to a release to mark the day, issued in Des Moines, Iowa, United States. Mahmud Johnson, 26, is the Founder of J-Palm Liberia, which works to improve income for Liberia’s smallholder oil palm farmers by 50-80 percent. He is also creating additional jobs for over 1,000 young people to work as sales representatives for his products.

“Despite the tremendous odds, we (African youth) are determined to maximise our abundant agricultural resources to create wealth, jobs, and socioeconomic opportunities in our countries and across the continent. We need our stakeholders to view us as serious partners in Africa’s transformation, and to work with us to expand our enterprises,” Mahmud said. Mahmud and some of his employees have benefited from capacity building programmes under AfDB’s Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment for Youth initiative.

Like Mahmud, many African youths are passionate about staying back on the continent to create wealth and employment, if given the tools and opportunities to put their skills to use. Under the ENABLE Youth programme, the Bank is working with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to develop a new generation of young commercial farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs. “We must get youths into agriculture and see it as a profitable business venture, not a sign of lacking ambition,” said the President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

“Our goal is to develop 10,000 such young agricultural entrepreneurs per country in the next 10 years. In 2016, the Bank provided $700 million to support this program in eight countries and we’ve got requests now from 33 countries,” said Adesina. The Bank considers investment in agriculture as the key to making Africa youths prosperous, thereby stemming the tide of migration. This goal and theme of 2017 World Food Day are well aligned with two of the AfDB’s High 5 development priorities – Feed Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa – said Vice-President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the AfDB, Jennifer Blanke.

“A thriving business sector in Africa will provide the jobs and returns that will attract and retain Africa’s best talent on the continent while improving the quality of life of all Africans,” she said. With more than 70 percent of Africans depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, it is imperative for the sector’s full potential to be unlocked, and by doing so help to vastly improve the lives Africans. Accordingly, one of the goals of Feed Africa is to eliminate hunger and malnutrition by 2025.

Due to the finite nature of mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, crude oil, among others, African countries must diversify their economies. This cannot be done without a significant emphasis on agriculture given that the great majority of Africans depend on it for their livelihoods, the release noted. Increased food demand and changing consumption habits driven by demographic factors such as urbanisation (internal migration) are leading to rapidly rising net food imports, which will grow from $35 billion in 2015 to over $110 billion by 2025 if trends are left unchecked.

Given that African smallholder farmers are on average about 60 years old, Africa’s food security depends on attracting young people into agriculture and agribusiness and empowering them. Governments can support these shifts through the right enabling environments via policy reforms for increased private investment in agriculture and agribusiness.

“Food security and rural development are closely interlinked with issues of migration, fragility and resilience. The Horn of Africa and the Sahel provide compelling examples of how global factors such as food insecurity, radical extremism and migration reinforce state fragility and have devastating effects on development,” said AfDB Vice-President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery, Khaled Sherif.

“The lack of economic opportunities, infrastructure, employment opportunities and unpredictable climatic changes in these countries are key sources of fragility that often times result in the forced migration of peoples seeking a desperate alternative. The Bank has, where appropriate, adopted risk-based approaches at both country and regional levels in addressing fragility”, he added.

Audu Charges Farmers To Mainstream Agricultural Produce

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh,  in his keynote address at the south-west nationwide advocacy on agricultural quality control and standardisation across the six geopolitical zones held in Lagos, charged farmers and agro-processors dealers to mainstream the issue of food safety in their agricultural production as Nigerians deserve good, safe and quality agro-outputs for consumption and to meet world standards and international best practices.

 

“There is no better time than now to mainstream food safety into agricultural production if we want to really diversify our economy using agriculture as a veritable tool and have our own share of the export at both regional and international markets.

Nigerians also deserve good, safe and quality agro-outputs for consumption and should be globally accepted like their counterparts across the globe” the Minister stated.

Ogbeh, who was represented by the Coordinating Director, Nigerian Agricultural  Quarantine  services, Dr. Vincent Isegbe, noted that previous efforts of the ministry had hitherto been geared towards increased cultivation and output per unit area with less emphasis  on quality and standards of agro- produce, stating that the ban on dry beans from Nigeria by the European Union had now shifted attention to standards and quality in order to avoid incidences of communicable diseases in  the country more so to earn  foreign earnings that will boost the Nigerian economy.

He said the nationwide advocacy  on quality control  and standardization of agricultural  commodities was to target  farmers and other  stakeholders along  the food value  chain so as to inculcate the culture of agro- quality among key policymakers in both public and private institutions  and to recognise the essential role of food safety in the production, preparation, manufacturing, packaging ,distribution, storage,sale of food and food products as well as agro produce  export promotion.

The Minister maintained that as part of government’s  initiative to aid aggregation, certification standardisation and traceability, commodities certification  centres would be established across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

 

FG To Create Fresh 360,000 Jobs For Youths In Agric

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, in Abuja at a stakeholders’ meeting on the operational framework for the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS), has said the Federal Government has commenced steps to ensure quick commencement of the Federal Government’s agricultural initiative to provide jobs for 360,000 youths nationwide.

He said AADS was targeted primarily at unemployed youths between the ages of 18 and 35. Emefiele said through the scheme, a minimum of 10,000 youths in each state, willing to engage in sustainable and profitable activities along the agriculture value chain, would be employed and trained.

“I believe we are on the verge of something very significant with the AADS.

“ This scheme has been designed to create an ecosystem with the active participation of the public sector, state governments and the private sector,’’ he said.

Emefiele said the objectives of AADS included the creation of economy of scale of farming on contiguous land.

“It will also assist famers in embracing modern farming practices, such as use of tractors and irrigation schemes.

“It aims to reduce cost of production with availability of high quality inputs at competitive prices and lowering delivery cost of extension services,’’ he explained.

Emefiele said that state governments were expected to provide contiguous arable land, basic infrastructure, more efficient extension services, training and mentoring of the beneficiaries.

“The CBN on its part will provide financing at single digit interest rates.

“Beneficiaries are not expected to come up with any physical collateral but they must be grouped into formally registered cooperatives and cross-guarantee each other.

“All loan beneficiaries must also have valid Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), which will be registered on the National Collateral Registry and used to track repayments and also blacklist any defaulters.

Emefiele said that with the release of the operational framework for the scheme, engagements with stakeholders would be continuous to ensure that the scheme began during the dry season cultivation of the outgoing year.

Also, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would be providing technical support for the project.

“We will be fully involved in the land clearing aspect of the project. In some places we will also be building dams and lakes to ensure all season farming.

“We will also provide advice because we have a team of experts at the ministry on crops, soil testing and the right kind of fertiliser so that when these young people go into agriculture, they won’t lose money,” he said.

The Governor of Kebbi, Mr Atiku Bagudu, thanked the Federal Government for recognising the significance of agriculture in economic development.

“We could not have recovered from recession as early as we did if not for the intense agricultural intervention initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari,’’ he said.

Bagudu also stressed the need to involve financial institutions, which banking models allowed them to support agriculture, for the programme to succeed.