Nigeria’s Federal Governiment in a bid to ensure food security in the country on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sustain Africa Initiative targeted at revamping the nation’s agriculture sector.
This is just as Vice President Kashim Shettima said President Bola Tinubu is passionate about repositioning the nation’s agriculture sector towards achieving sustainable food security in the country.
Sustain Africa Initiative is a crisis response and resilience initiative to improve availability, affordability and effective as well as sustainable use of fertilizer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Initiative works as a coordination mechanism among public and private sector partners to help smallholder farmers access affordable fertilizer, and its programmes particularly target hard-hit regions and farmers in focus countries.
Speaking during the signing of the MoU in his office at the State House, Abuja, the Vice President said it was a significant mile stone in the commitment of the Tinubu administration to the prosperity and sustainability of agriculture in Nigeria.
Reiterating President’s resolve to reposition the agriculture sector, Shettima said, “It is not about us sitting in the comfort of our air-conditioned offices. We really need to see what the farmers are going through and the president of the All Farmers Association has already spoken my mind by establishing the pain-points of the Nigerian farmer in addressing the challenges of the Nigerian farmers. My boss, President Tinubu is irrevocably committed to repositioning Nigerian agriculture.”
Noting that incidentally, he is an “Agricultural Economist by training, a Banker by profession and now a politician by calling,” he declared that inputs are very key in agriculture.
His words: “Without sufficient, quality inputs, without investing in the immediate technology, without devoting our time to best agricultural practice, our output will remain low and sadly, fertilizer is an inestimable input in agriculture and we are finding it difficult investing in it.
“I want to thank the Bill and Melinder Gates Foundation for being quite supportive of the issues of the African famer. Without impacting positively on the output of the African farmer our productivity will remain low and issues of food security will not go away. As rightly said by the President of the Farmers Association of Nigeria, all that the Nigerian farmer needs is to have input at his doorsteps and at affordable prices.
“And with this beautiful initiative, I believe you have taken the right step in achieving things. I want to convey to you the warm wishes and regards of my Principal, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has the courage to declare state of emergency in the agric sector. For the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy more than any other sector, inflationary train in Nigeria is affecting every other issue.
“So, this is why we are gearing up towards launching agricultural transformation plan for the next agricultural season. Even in the dry season farming we are engaging in wheat cultivation in an effort to bring the cost of food stuff in tomatoes and other products all in an effort to bring down the prices food stuff.”
Shettima assured that the partnership with Sustain Africa Initiative was for real, saying to guard Nigeria’s ’s agriculture to a lasting prosperity, the plight of the ordinary Nigerian must first be understood.
On the significance of the MoU, the Vice President noted: “With the signing of the MoU, it is expected that over the next few months, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, in conjunction with her partners, will visit all the six-geo-political zones to engage farmers to ‘establish the pain-points farmers in accessing and utilizing farm inputs/fertilizer’.
“These insights will support the reforms, interventions, partnerships and innovations envisioned in the Ministry’s strategic plans an Sustain Africa’s intention in contributing to increase resilience in Nigeria’s food systems.”
Earlier in his remarks, leader of delegation and Executive Director, Sustain Africa Initiative, Mr. Ben Valk, praised the Tinubu administration for his commitment in transforming the food system in Nigeria and achieving sustainable food security.
He expressed hope that smallholder farmers will benefit from his knowledge and experience, which they have garnered from other parts of Africa.
The MoU was signed on behalf of the Federal Government by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agribusiness, Dr. Kingsley Uzoma, while Mr. Michael Sudarkasa signed on behalf of Sustain Africa Initiative.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja