The Federal Government of Nigeria has distributed 38,142 kilogramme of improved cashew seeds to Kogi farmers, to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known at the roll-out of inputs to farmers in Lokoja on Thursday.
The programme was organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
The ministry also distributed improved seeds of other priority crops like sesame, soybeans, rice, maize, wheat, cocoa and potatoes.
He said the inputs would be distributed through farmer associations, women and youth groups as well as cooperatives, to ensure the country did not experience food shortage as a result of the pandemic.
“As you are aware, the restriction of movement of people, goods and services has had a negative effect on food production, income and livelihood of the smallholder farmers, who produce most of the food consumed in the country.
“Therefore, supporting them with the much needed production inputs especially seeds, would enhance food production, create employment and enable them to recover quickly from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The support is to further make them self-reliant while ensuring more sustainable and resilient food system,” he said.
According to Nanono, the support is with the following farm inputs: 38,142kg of improved cashew seeds to 3,798 cashew farmers and 27,000kg of certified sesame seeds to 5,400 sesame farmers.
“Others are 50,000kg of soybeans seeds for distribution to soybeans farmers and 12,000 bundles of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) for 1,200 potato farmers.
“Equally, we are distributing 15,000 sachets of redforce, 3,000 sachets of glory crop protection, 580 litres of soil amender and 500 litres of organic fertiliser to potato farmers,” he said.
The minister said that the distribution of the inputs in Kogi was fourth in the series of palliatives being given out, since the commencement of the programme across the country.
He said during the first roll-out of inputs in Kano, that the ministry, in collaboration with development partners, distributed certified seeds of sorghum, millet, cowpea and rice to 8,200 farmers in 13 states of the federation.
Nanono stated that at the second roll-out in Kaduna on June 8, the ministry supported rice farmers with 27,000 kg and 300,000 kg each of certified seeds of FARO 66.
The minister noted that 300,000 kg of Foundation Seeds of flood tolerant rice varieties of FARO 66 & FARO 67 were equally distributed.
“In the course of the distribution, 20 metric tons of Breeder Seeds of the same varieties were given to 14 selected seed companies, to produce foundation seeds.
“Also, 26,000kg of certified wheat seeds were distributed and 1,350 maize production kits were given to maize farmers.
“In the same vein, 18,517kg of Aflasafe and 300,000 sprouted nuts of oil palm were given to farmers in Kogi, Nasarawa and Kaduna States.
“During the third exercise conducted in Ibadan on June 24, the ministry supported Kenaf farmers through the Kenaf Producers, Processors & Marketers Association (KEPPMAN) with 19,672kg Kenaf Foundation Seeds.
“Yam farmers were supported through their National Association and other cooperative groups, 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 Worm infestation in maize.”
Nanono said that in line with targets set in the National Gender Action Plan for Agriculture and Policies, aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women farmers, at least 35 per cent inputs would be given to them.
He explained that the directive has been communicated to the farmers’ associations accordingly.
He urged beneficiaries to make judicious use of the inputs, to produce food for the nation, while calling on other stakeholders to provide similar supports to ensure food sufficiency.
The minister said that the ministry would always take the issue of food security and health of the population seriously.
He noted that the seeds were given to the beneficiaries free of charge, while other inputs were given at 75 per cent subsidy.
Meanwhile, Gov. Yayaha Bello of Kogi, while inaugurating the distribution of the inputs, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his passion for agriculture.
Bello, who was represented by Dep. Gov. Edward Onoja, thanked Buhari for marching words with action on diversification of the economy, from being oil dependent to agriculture dependent.
He assured that the state would continue to encourage farmers to ensure agriculture was not inhibited by COVID-19.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq in the course of the event, distributed bags of fertiliser to 2018 flood victims in the state.