by Tahir Sherriff
The Minister of Agriculture has said that rice challenges in Nigeria will soon be a thing of the past. Speaking during an engagement session with journalists and the social media during a tour of a local farm in Abuja, the Minister stated that challenges which rigged the rice production capability of Nigeria will come to an end shortly.
‘Nigerians want to eat rice, we want Nigerians to also do so. But more importantly, we want Nigerians to eat good rice, and at a reasonable cost. This year, we have money to build dams and lakes, and to curb water shortages we are working to trap water that feeds into the ocean for better irrigation. We have extension workers who go into communities to inform community workers, provide fertilizers, and help farmers with credits and access to seeds.’
The Minister also gave journalists and the press a farm tour of one of the beneficiaries of the farming schemes put in place by the government to motivate and fund youths to look more into agriculture for a sustainable future.
‘We don’t want people to go into agriculture, lose money and then begin to regret, Agriculture has to be made less tedious to attract young people. We are in some partnerships to mechanize for the next 5 years’
The agricultural sector in Nigeria had been facing significant upheavals owing to rising food prices under the recession. In the past, sustainable initiatives were severely marred by failing policies, and low support infrastructure to aid farming from the banking industry. Audu Ogbeh also commented on the high interest rates by banks and low availability of lands to farmers to help boost the industry:
‘There is no country in the world were you will see high interests rates for farmers and still see development, I think this is something people really need to look into.’
In Benisheik, over 4,000 farmers were provided with seed and fertilizer to help cultivate 4,000 hectares of land in September. To help mitigate the effect of herder/farmer conflicts in several parts of Nigeria, the Federal Government has also began a training program led by the Nigerian Army for Agro-Rangers to help protect farmer’s products and farmlands.
‘Thirteen states have agreed to provide us with 5,000 hectares of land, to help us reduce the effect of herder/farmer conflict caused by cattle roaming about. We intend to help set a model for herders that can be adopted nationwide. If these cattle are provided with good grass to graze and water, the roaming will begin to cease.’
The session allowed the public to engage the Minister on issues related to the Ministry such as the Maputo declaration, the role of women in rural farming, access to credit facilities and information to rural farmers and the Ministries approach towards tackling climate change. It also ended with a tour of a local farm which allowed members of the press and social media team to review the effect of the work that the Ministry had been undertaking at the local level.
The conversation can be followed with the hashtag #HMAgricMeets