The 44th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development ( NCARD), kicked off on Tuesday 15th June 2021 in Abuja with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ernest A. Umakhihe declaring the Technical Session open. According to Dr. Umakhihe, the NCARD which theme is ” Nigeria’s Agriculture and Food Security in the face of COVID – 19, Floods and Insecurity ” is geared primarily towards assessing the effects of extant policies and programs, fine-tuning existing strategies, and shaping initiatives for agricultural development in Nigeria.

This he said is so because the arising challenges from COVID- 19, floods, and Insecurity has conveniently placed Agriculture as a springboard for socio-economic recovery, stabilization, and growth in the face of food Insecurity.In a welcome address by the Federal Capital Territory, ( FCT), Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Ibe Prospect, noted that the coming of COVID -19 is a wakeup call for a new beginning in Agriculture because this has shown that nations unable to sustain their internal food supply may not survive in times of grave demand posed by disasters like COVID – 19.

Presenting a paper ” promoting private investments and financing agribusiness value chains in the face of COVID- 19 Pandemic, floods and Insecurity “, Abdul – Azeez Olumiywa stated that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation ( FAO), and World Food Programme (WFP), in recent reports stated that ” acute hunger is set to soar in over 20 countries without urgent and scaled-up assistance of which Yemen, South Sudan and Northern Nigeria top the list “. The report ascribed the causative factors to Insecurity ( conflict other forms of violence), COVID – 19, and climactic extremes especially delays in the onset of rainfall as a result of climatic change.

In recognizing these challenges, Dr. Umakhihe stated that being aware and cautious of the impact of COVID- 19 on the global community, as well as climatic change, flooding, and Insecurity that is posing a threat to global food security and Nigeria in particular, stakeholders in the 44th NCARD should consider themselves as engine room and should deliberately put strategies in place and explore linkages for an increase in production, processing, and marketing within the agribusiness ecosystem, to avert food crisis and engender food sufficiency for the growing Nigerian population The Permanent Secretary stated that the Federal Government is committed to implementing the framework of the National Economic Sustainability Plan and the Nigerian Agricultural Technology and Innovation Plan as a strategy for food resilience and economic development.

He highlighted the Federal Government’s efforts in the sector to include: “the provision of Mechanization, inputs to farmers, training of extension agents on extension service delivery in the crop, fishery, and livestock value chain activities and construction of mini earth dam for irrigation activities “.Dr. Umakhihe informed that “others are the facilitation of rice, milk, Cassava Processing plants, Bush clearing, farmers Market, Commercial pasture plots, Windmill powered boreholes and Rural roads. Similar is the conduct of Aerial spray against the seasonal invasion of quelea birds in the North East and North West frontline States to migrate losses “.

He emphasized the commitment of the ministry “be tied to the commodity value chain concept of strengthening sectoral linkages, Import substitution initiatives, value-added Processing, and Export-oriented activities in the country”.Umakhihe stressed the importance of sustaining the collaboration on agribusiness initiatives to facilitate incentives to researchers, farmers, and processors geared towards an increase in agricultural output and match National requirements. He pointed out that “this will encourage more individuals and institutions to invest in agriculture and create livelihoods and wealth for the populace. Therefore, we must sustain our cooperation on Agriculture and food security for socio-economic development in Nigeria “.Other thought-provoking presentations were made by Engr. Aleode Isedu, Nasir Yammama, Dr. Jinandu Maina and lead presenter, Prof. Gbolagade Ayoola ,among others .