Minister Rallies Farmers to Embrace Buhari’s Economic Diversification Plan

243 views | Akanimo Sampson | February 24, 2021

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, is rallying farmers in the country to support the economic diversification agenda of the Buhari administration through increased agricultural production, processing and value addition.

His ministry is also strengthening ties with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a bid to develop a strategic plan for the Nigerian cashew industry spanning the next 10 years.

The ministry in a statement said Nanono signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the USDA-West Africa PRO-Cashew Project to expand the value chain and create more job opportunities.

The cashew project in Nigeria, according to the minister, will advance the national hectarage of the crop and improve productivity as well as the country’s food security and revenue generation.

The project is targeted at boosting the increased production capacity of cashew from 260,000MT in 2020 to 350,000MT by 2023 and processing capacity from 15 percent in 2020 to 35 percent by 2023.

Details were revealed during the signing of the MoU and an interactive session with officials of the USDA-West Africa PRO-Cashew Project at the ministry’s Conference Hall in Abuja.

As part of the project, the minister has also constituted the Cashew Value Chain Working Committee to dissect the value chain and kick-start operations with the foreign collaborators.

Members of the committee include the various stakeholders in the cashew value chain chaired by  Managing Director of Nigeria Agribusiness Registrar, Roland Oroh, and Director, Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA), Mrs Karima Babangida, as a member.

Nanono says the project is pertinent since cashew ranks as the second non-oil export foreign exchange earner for the country and generated about $500 million for the country in 2018. He said the government was fully committed to developing the commodity for export.

“Currently the national production capacity of cashew in 2020 was 260,000MT on 100,000ha of land. Average yield was 600kg/ha as against the global average of 1.230kg/ha,” Nanono said, adding that the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project and other stakeholders will work in tandem with the ministry to achieve the set target and help the country guide future interventions and woo investors to grow the value chain.

The project is also said to be implemented in partnership with Implemented by cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), an international development organization headquartered in Washington, DC.

Chief of Party/Managing Director of the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project, Jeans Francois Guay, who revealed this added that the five-year project will build the capacity of farmers’ organisations and agro- good suppliers in the areas of service delivery and business as well as orchard management.

He explains that the project can catalyse up to $10 million investment opportunities, create jobs, strengthen public and private partnerships, and improve trade and cashew farmers’ productivity in the value chain.

Director of the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA), Mrs Karima Babangida, in her remarks lauded the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project for its intervention strategies to improve the cashew sector in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region – alongside Benin, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.

Notable stakeholders present at the signing included; President of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Ojo Ajanaku; Executive Director Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Dr.Adeola Patrick; Manager West Africa, GrainPro Inc., Olu Adeyemi; Bishnu Pattanaik of Huxley; among others.

In the mean time, Nanono was rallying the farmers at a sensitisation workshop by his ministry in Kano state for stakeholders in sesame and ginger value chains. It is targeted at improving the production of sesame and ginger and also, raise awareness on the use and health benefits of the products.

The minister who was represented by the Northwest Regional Director of the agric ministry, Dr Abdulkareem Durisinlorun, emphasised the importance of food, drawing a parallel between self-sufficiency in food production and the protection of the nation’s sovereignty.

“Growing our food, processing what we produce, becoming competitive in export markets and creating jobs all across our economy, are crucial for our national security”, he adds.

According to the minister, the workshop was organised to assess the present status of the ginger and sesame sub-sector, uncover the challenges facing the industry and determine the way forward.

“The ministry has put in place various measures to increase production, processing and value addition through supports for research in the National Agricultural Research System; making available various classes of seeds; sensitization and capacity building for stakeholders; establishment of cottage processing centres across the country among other”, Nanono said.

While he further commended the Buhari-led administration for prioritising agriculture in its economic diversification agenda, Mrs Babaginda described the programmes as well-timed and a crucial step for efficient production and distribution of the said commodities.

The sensitisation workshop was attended by various dignitaries including; Muhammed Shehu Adamu, Technical Assistant to Director FDA-FMARD, Abba Gana Yamani, State Director FMARD Kano State, Prof. Sanusi Gaya, Dr. Mustapha Jibril, Dr. Saifullahi UMAR, FMARD Staff, major stakeholders in ginger and sesame value-chain and farmers.

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