President Goodluck Jonathan has approved N14billion to support the 2014 dry season farming across the country.
The president who made this known yesterday during the official launch of the Dry Season Farm Support programme at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, said N9 billion was approved for the dry season farmers last year and that the support will continue to increase as more farmers key into the programme.
He promised that his administration will work to ensure that the dry season food support programme becomes a national food policy.
He said: “Our resolve to expand this dry season programme is strong and subsequently it has to come up in October so that they will get what they need before the commencement of the dry season.
“To demonstrate this, I am today (yesterday) announcing N14 billion to support the dry season farming for 2014. Last year it was N9 billion, this year is 14 billion and as more states come on board we will continue to increase the amount of money.
“We I’ll continue to work with farmers and that is why I am announcing today that the support will become a national policy. Our nation shall be green, our barns shall be filled and our farmers shall prosper.” he said.
He however urged the ministry to move the launch of the dry season farming up to October or November as January is a bit late.
He said the programme was launched in 2011 with the goal of adding an additional 20 million metric tones of food to the country’s domestic food supply in order to change the approach to agriculture.
“As a nation,we must feed ourselves. A giant that cannot feed herself of course the weight of the giant will crush the weak legs if there is no food.”
Jonathan said the country did not suffer from food crisis because the Growth Enhancement Programme (GES) has already reached about one million genuine farmers who have already harvested their crops before the 2012 floods.
He noted that food stuffs like rice and other grains have been harvested and stored especially in states that were not affected by the flood.
“High yielding seeds of rice including those that would tolerate flood as well as fertilisers that are provided free of charge to over 257,000 farmers in 10 leading rice producing states in the north, namely Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kogi and Niger states. Our farmers showed reliance, our food production from the impact of the flood I am happy and proud of farmers, they set a record by producing one million metric tones of paddy rice within one dry season. In total and across the country, our farmers produced additional 15 million metric tones of food within two years and this is how it should be, this is the way to go” he said.
Stressing that agriculture is no longer a developmental project in Nigeria, he said: “We no longer treat agriculture as a development programme, we now talk about wealth creation not poverty alleviation. We have changed our approach and that is why we are here today”.
“We will continue to expand the GES to reach other farmers. It is our hope that we will reach 10 million farmers by the end of this year with improved seeds, fertilizers and other production input including farms machinery hiring centers. The ministry is working to establish centers where tractors can be addressed at reduced prices. We are working to improve the access of farmers to markets.”
“Modern warehouses will be established across the country so that farmers can store their produce and the airport facilities will be expanded to be able to move the produce as they come.
He vowed that the “loss of more than 50 per cent of persherable commodities must stop”.
The President said he had been duly briefed that over 600,000 farmers have already registered to produce food in this year’s dry season representing an increase of about 1.5 per cent over the numbers who participated last year.
Twenty more states, he said, have registered to participate in dry season farming in this year’s programme compared to last year.