Smallholder farmers in Nigeria will soon hive a sigh of relieve as the Federal Government is making efforts to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not sweep them out of the farm.
Abuja is unveiling a support fund that will help them to protect jobs in the sector to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the food supply chain.
The government says it is providing zero-interest input financing options to two million smallholder farmers in the country under its new Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP).
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Mohammed Sabo Nanono, announced in Abuja that the development was part of efforts to mitigate the effects of the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic on food production.
According to Nanono, ‘’AFJP targets two million smallholder farmers across the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and aims to produce 10 million tonnes of food which include carbohydrates, animal protein, and edible oils within the next 12 months.”
Continuing, he pointed out that on execution, the AFJP scheme will be a joint venture that will involve the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the private sector, and beneficiary farmers.
“This programme will be achieved through investment in the sector by way of providing zero-interest input financing options such as fertilisers and seeds to farmers across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory to produce harvests that could be sold domestically and internationally”, the minister says.
He said the plan will run for 12 months with an aggregate of two million hectares of land.
The minister explained that the ministry has a well mapped-out plan, and will inaugurate the project which will help with storage and off-take mechanisms for their produce.
While pointing out that the plan will target priority crops and livestock, the minister listed some of the crops to include rice, maize, sorghum, groundnuts, cowpea, cassava, and millet as well as horticulture, palm kernel, cotton, sesame seeds, cocoa, hides, and skin, among others.